The gypsy said after much wandering
my life would end in a flash
of understanding. Most of her teeth were black,
but her breath smelled of cloves, her skin of island sun.
She held my hand between her brown hands,
her long, ringed fingers rubbing my palm until
I began to feel invaded, violated. You run
from love, she said. I’m married, I answered.
Her hands stopped moving.
It was not easy to meet her gaze.
You run from love, she repeated. Love will knock three
times on your door. Three times. After the third knock,
it will not come again.
I suddenly felt I was running,
hard and fast across a field of packed red earth, the sky
flat and gray above me. Then I was back at the gypsy’s table,
breathless and unsure of myself,
the silken fringe of her tablecloth brushing against my thighs.
Her bracelets clanged like wind chimes in late autumn,
when the breeze is fresh, but carries the scent of a hard winter.
She shook her head. Seven lives
will pass through your womb, she said. I scoffed,
but years later remembered her words as the seventh child
bled from me in a rush of grief and pain.
Her skirts rustled like leaves on a damp forest floor.
You fear success as much as you crave it, but
your success lies through failure. There is no way
around. She wore two earrings in one ear,
three in the other, all dangling with moons and stars, glittering
with stones. I became impatient, anxious to leave.
Not yet, she said, taking my hand again, drawing me
closer as she leaned in. There is one thing more you must hear.
You are marked, she said in a whisper. Chosen. Blessed.
Believe, she said. And she let go of my hand.