Dan Cuddy

Romance of the Fortune Teller

lightning, thunder
chalk scraped against a blackboard

we learn, yes, we learn
we read signs in the sky
in the entrails of fowl
in leaves
though we need a gypsy lady 
to open her wide dark eyes
surrounded by so much mascara
like rainbows around streetlights
or maybe the moon

we need glasses
disguises
so we don’t see the everyday
homeliness
that dresses up to fool us
with castanets and dire predictions

I don’t know if I would be afraid
to lean over
grab that old gypsy woman’s chin
kiss her more like a lover
than an old aunt

would I be afraid of a scorpion
in that old mouth?
would I mummify on the spot?
the dust of my eyes blows away
joins the desert 
that is the remains of the dead?

that gypsy was young, I think, once
olive skin, midnight dark hair
lips that glistened in bewitched dreams

someone would have taken her
did take her once
to a room with a balcony
a great antique bed
a canopy and curtains
and space on that bed
to make a future
greater than a prediction

I look at her
see the embers of beauty
burn away
breathe the smoke 
of all the world’s illusions

truth is a homely old lady
selling her wares behind so much make-up
telling the young
“and happily ever after”

I don’t want to listen
or look
I want to believe
in song
in dancing hips
in the wind of fear
which makes you alive
and dares you to grab
the body of this sweet life

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