The Fortuneteller

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
—2 Peter 1:21

You let your hair grow wild, slump down into the cave of your clothes, go native; you catch glimpses of your streets, your homeless poets, old faces nameless but familiar. It’s a postcard scene, not a window; a reminder of what you’ve lost, not the res ipsa. You might be a trophy on a Yellow mantel someplace, a toy for an old diabetic, but that’ll drive you crazy thinking about it, so mostly you don’t. You keep your eyes open, though it’s little enough.

You have a name down here, a reliable one. They come to you for advice. You set bones, break curses, tell fortunes, broker deals. You make your own cards, each a glimpse of the city you lost, of the people, and spread them out for whoever asks. You derive symbols of your own calculus; if they are unblessed by tradition, they are no less meaningful.

Two for the past, one for the present, two for the future: Babylon, Labyrinth, the Lion of Belfort reversed, the Cyborg, the Tower. The unsettled city of traitors, the inescapable path, the wine steward with a cup of poison; humiliation leading to growth, a goal never quite obtained.

“Yes,” you murmur to yourself, “that seems right.”