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  • Laurie Byro

Samhain Tarot

Perhaps he was a bit different from other people,

but what really sympathetic person is not a little mad?

—Isadora Duncan

Inside the cabinet that still sticks when it’s humid,

you wait inside a deck of cards just as I thought

we were through playing games. A monk shuffles

through his meditations in silence. I cut the deck

as fall turns into itself in its own way, unable

to change its vision to satisfy me. I spread our lives

all over the floor. Cross-legged, Corfu-sun mad,

I am a grubby queen, loyal but not faithful, my braid

something you would tear to keep as a tributary

to you. A hermit queues up to lead the procession

of dead. His heart is a winter hive that I have

scraped free of sticky honey. It’s the time of year,

when clothes are rummaged through and bagged

for the poor. I can’t bear to lose the last scraps

of your smell. I watch your breath rise in the morning.

Nights before I fall asleep, I lose sight of your masked

face. The dead hold their shoes and tiptoe past

our beds while we sleep. Lately, I light all the lamps

in the house to warn you off. You won’t hold still

long enough for me to crawl inside your dusty coat

and release your demons into the wild air. As I finish

my supper, you place a piece of bread onto my tongue.

I spread the cards to reveal a better future. Tonight,

I will stuff your patched flannel shirt with leaves

in their patterns of splattered blood. I’ll surround you

with every hanged man in the deck and force

your hand. Tomorrow, I will sit with you

as we doze on the porch. The buttons I’ve sewn on

for your eyes will glitter madly as if you know

for certain what will become of us.

—Laurie Byro


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