I liked her shawl.
She had coffee from Gas-N-Go, and a tip jar;
her booth was on a slight incline, drawing her clients down
into her confidence, whether by eagerness or gravity.
"I was in a fire once," I told her.
I like non-sequiturs.
I like watching people scramble for the thread.
She paused, then continued.
"This spirit is affecting your mood, your choices, your relationships."
She turned over a card.
I leaned forward without wanting to.
The first time I spent the night with you,
I had a dream that someone was screaming in my left ear,
or there was a bad storm in my left ear,
or maybe an insect had crawled inside and was buzzing, stinger poised.
I sat up quick, breathing hard.
You went, "Unh..." in your sleep, trouble crossed your face for just an instant.
The fake Gypsy told me that every person is like a bead on a string.
We don't choose our color,
Some woman lays us across her breast, and it's warm there
or it isn't.
We are treasured, or we're not.
Kept close, or discarded.
"You have an attached spirit." The fake Gypsy
was speaking the way some people will to a foreigner--
urgent, a little exasperated.
Understand me, you outlandish fool.
"You need to do something about it."
We visited a park in Belgrade once,
and I was speaking to you, a notebook of poems in my hand,
sitting on the edge of a fountain and serving up my heart
as if it were a second helping of chicken paprikash.
I was turned in the wrong direction,
you weren't listening;
I was leaning forward in spite of myself,
and you were walking away like an occupier withdrawing.
That's all I remember.
"I can help you detach this spirit," said the fake Gypsy.
I leaned back with an effort, almost fell over, heard myself speak gibberish.
I felt sick, stupid, dizzy.
Then I was sitting at your kitchen table,
with the portrait of St. Sebastian on the wall,
and the kitty clock, and the insurance company calendar.
I began to cry, like a stupid schoolgirl.
You laughed, shook your head, and said, "You always overdo everything."
Then I was in bed with a roaring in my left ear.
Then I was falling down the stairs,
coming apart, splitting, scattering.
The fake Gypsy was there at the bottom, holding up a string.
"There, you see?" she said, smiling as I lay there with my fractures on fire,
"One bead still on the string."
Then she leaned down to kiss me, as if she couldn't help herself.
for Fireblossom Friday: I Put A Spell On You.