O to have been a fortune teller dressed
in a purple caftan with a fuchsia scarf
tied around my head.
I’d reach out and turn over the palm
of my oldest brother’s hands
telling him, “Don’t let marijuana
and boozy barroom women beguile you.
You’ll be crushed as though
a boa constrictor
were squeezing out your life.”
I’d look into the future and warn
my middle brother,
“Don’t go out to sea.
The merchant seamen are rougher
than ocean waves crashing over
the ship in a hurricane.
Your artist’s eye and poet’s mind
will come back forever altered
by the ugly banter of men
in need of a woman’s touch,
and you’ll emerge dressed
in silk and satin longing for softness.”
For the youngest brother,
I’d spread the cards before me
as though playing Solitaire,
warning, “Heroin will take you
from moments of bliss to torment.
Run from it, don’t turn around,
or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.”
Now, I need no crystal ball to predict:
there won’t be many rainbows left
for them to see
or sweet sounds of the clarinet
for them to hear,
as the notes lilt up through treetops
toward the Big Dipper in the sky.
Previously published in Beggars & Cheeseburgers