a woman comes to the door, wearing a saffron robe, her straight hair in a brown bun, her face stern but capable of merriment. her long robes sway, shine purples and royal blues as you follow her. her thighs belong to an old farmer who remembered his potatoes but forgot his fields, her butt could survive long hours on the polished wooden pews of an un-air-conditioned baptist church. you wonder why she wears the silky suggestive clothes of a beautiful woman. maybe she doesn’t realize, you think, as she motions you to a seat. you smile, you are nervous and suddenly want to feel friends with her. you are tinder on a hot summer day. still her face remains her own. she shares nothing but the swish of long skirts as she sits across from you, and caresses the tarot cards.

it is an ordinary table, cigarette holes burned in the top. perhaps a lover paces in the kitchen. perhaps a child cries in the bedroom. you know nothing of this woman, only her name and her gift. again, you look at her, trying to reach her eyes. is she smart? is she kind? her cheeks are plump and flushed, her eyes lowered. she caresses only the cards. you are the furniture, the cards are life. they whisper to her as she shuffles through. they are the voices of your dreams, the voices speaking behind your back, maybe in another language. you can’t understand them. the room smells of sweat and rose musk. there is an ugly green sofa and a small television. there is a doily somewhere. you notice all this, and then you see the three cards. DEATH in the middle.

and now she looks at you as if you were someone. do not be afraid, she says, death is merely change. her voice is like a tender arm around your shoulder. she looks into your eyes at last, and you see violet sorrows and lost souls, and you see the image of yourself, more beautiful than you thought you were. your hands are knotted, empty as you leave. merely change. the whisper haunts you like a hungry hawk, swooshes through your darkness with more sight than you’ll ever have. change, a prayer crunched like a dying leaf with each footstep, trod over, run from, and still the sound, the whisper, a precious necklace, an unborn dance, hunting within you, waiting with a beauty you never realized.