I Listen For Stories

by HemmingPlay


I listen for stories.
That’s what I do. 

 There was this old Black woman, see.
We met when I was in college.
During my vaguely spiritual phase.
(It was Zen Buddhism next, but I digress.)

 She was a neighborhood fortune teller,
Worked out of her living room.
Maggie the fortune teller. 

 She told mine with cards,
And lifelines and mumbo-jumbo.
She had me figured out.
I was the foolish white boy
Who would give her money
To know the unknowable.
That guy was so dumb.
I loved her, I think. A little.
She knew it, too. 

I was a bare-footed pilgrim, walking a dusty trail,
And she was an unknowing signpost
One I thought would tell me the way.
She didn’t know that. I was just a mark.   

 It thrilled me,
To have someone reveal
Things I hadn’t figured out,
Who I was, what I would be,
Where I would go, who I would
Meet, where the dangers lurked.
Part of me knew it was a con.
I didn’t care.  

 I don’t remember any of what she revealed,
And look at my younger self’s
Puppy-like innocence
With a shake of the head, tolerance.
It reminds me I was once young enough
To be such a foolish one.

There were days and years after that
With unintended consequences,
Deaths and loss and births
And suffering and pain and, yes,
Ineffable joys that Maggie never foretold. 

 But, oh, what I would give
To inhabit that self again,
Even for an hour,
And see the world afresh
And the future as something
Hopeful, knowable: trusting
It had a place for me.


2 Responses to “I Listen For Stories”


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