Mystic Powers (I)


Eric Gansworth

I imagine my mother
hates the mystical powers
she's been saddled with
plodding through our futures
in damp tea leaves
chipped cups and spit
regretting the worst fortune
she ever told me:
that by the time
I discovered I didn't belong
in the white world
it would be too late
to come home.

She could not see
clearly in the bottom
of my cracked and mended tea cup
the fragments delivering
after their fashion
my fractured future.
Passing the cup
she tried to show me
where the leaves said I was
fading but I saw only dregs
and she said "See,"
as if trying to will my vision back
"it has started already."

She watched me every year
wondering how it would play out
if I would be shot or stabbed
or catch some incurable disease
among the crazy white people
while I grew by the year
more and more pale
even as I learned to braid
and tame my wild hair
a tenuous cord never
quite long enough to
reach the family plot she shared
with fifty or so cousins.

As always, she was right.
By the time I was ready
to walk reservation roads again
I no longer had a destination there.
Not having bothered to read
her own fortune for years,
knowing better than to think
she even had one,
my mother had not seen
the house fire
which had wiped us clean
from the map
the year before.

© 1998 Eric Gansworth

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