Wednesday, January 14, 2009


- for Stephanie

It was at dinner,
on Christmas Eve
that you jokingly mentioned the fortune teller
and what she saw when she read your palm.

Our mother placed her head in her hands,
shook it ever so slowly back and forth
begging you not to talk about it.
But the rest of us had had a few glasses of wine
and I for one was curious.

Besides, our mother fears the night sky
and all those open stars staring down at her.

What harm could be done?

You showed us your palm
and where the life line split
like a chasm
and then started again
like some kind of map for reincarnation.
I know the gypsys didn’t see it that way.
But I didn’t say anything at the table.
They believed that a break in the lifeline represented
a turn of events,
a major life change
or a fusing of the heart and the head.

All these little creases,
what could they possibly tell us?
The stitches that sew us all up
body and soul
packets of wires and felt,
rubbery muscles
crooked bones shaped like keys
and others shaped like locks.

And the next night,
we read your horoscope and laughed
over Moon Pie.
But when we said goodbye, I didn’t want to let go.
and I whispered into my own palm,
begging you, as our mother did in her own way
not to wait too long
between now and the next visit home.

Our father’s kidneys are failing
and these bodies we are given are unreliable,
twitching and bruising without reason
dark brown stains reminding us where we have been
but offering nothing about where we are going,
nothing like the crease in your palm
wrapped tightly around the steering wheel
and the years are passing like mile markers as you head
back to your city, your home,
and that is a good thing.

But just remember
we all need you
and if our mother forgets in the tending to of our father,
I for one
will leave a light on.

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