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ISSUE:  Spring 1994
Apollo’s shrine at Sura, sacred fish
in a tank foretold the future as they schooled
or scattered, circled or flashed off to the right.

The fountain at Daphne murmured prophecies.
The priestess of Apollo at Epirus
tended a pit of serpents in the holy

grove, predicting harvests, good or bad,
as the snakes came to her willingly
or not. And now a falcon dropping on

a prairie dog portends the fall of some
fat dynasty. The sky cracks open. I
myself can see the future in a flash

of earrings clear across a room. With omens
everywhere, how did I wait till now
to turn my hand and check the palm—this hand

that I have carried at arm’s length for all
these years. There was the future all along
where the deep lines converge under the thumb,

where the curled fingers dig in. Gently you open
my hand on top of your own thin palm. Yes,
read it to me, running your nail down

the old grooves, the silences, the looping
telephone lines. Why didn’t I open my hand
to you back when the future was still a guess,

a premonition, a thin hope wavering
across the flesh? Look. That spidery spot
far to the right—wouldn’t you say

the lines are still unsettled, snakes
just now uncoiling, making up their minds?
Wouldn’t you say a choice could still be made?


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