Oriana Ivy


From abysses of her skirt she pulls
a pack of cards, draws five,
spreads them in a fan.
My boyfriend and I see only


destiny’s backside,
oily gray as the tail
of an old Warsaw pigeon.
In a pause between the worlds,


she ponders the first card –
slowly looks up
with stone-black eyes:
You are going on a great journey.


I nearly faint. The city swirls
with solstice light; and in my
purse, barely obtained,
my American visa.


You will be rich, the Gypsy drones;
You will have three children . . .
She turns to my boyfriend, draws
another fan of cards:


Fear sits in your stomach.
His face turns completely white –
he’s terrified of the draft.
Behind us, huge heroic


statues of workers and peasants
lift hammers, sickles, march
into the future –
the Gypsy prehistoric,


scarf flowering red poppies.
You are thinking of a female head . . .
You will have two children . . .
He glowers – not with me. 


And you will be rich, she hastily
adds, her bronze narrow hand
plunging my bronze ten zlotys
down the forever of her skirt.


I’m seventeen. So this is fate.
Holding hands, he and I
walk the blossoming boulevards.
“A waste of money,” he says.


Pale golden bells of linden trees
hum with bees, a million voices
droning the same story –
one that begins, A Gypsy said . . .



Oriana Ivy was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was 17. Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry 1992, Nimrod, New Letters, The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior, Wisconsin Review, Prairie Schooner, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. A former journalist and community college instructor, she teaches poetry workshops. She lives in San Diego.


Oriana Ivy


                         When our life is ashes, it will not
                         Be ashes through and through –
                         For under the ash will remain
                         A starry diamond.
                                   ~ Cyprian Norwid



You were born under an unlucky star,
the fake Gypsy said
at the half-price
reading of my palms.
The windowsill was lit
by Jesus with a light bulb heart.
Do you believe in God?
the Gypsy pressed.

Earlier that year, I turned down
three gorgeous young men.
How could I reach the heights
unless I sublimated my libido?


But where was it, this new Life in Art?
I was drowning in a maelstrom
of erotic fantasies. In the end
I threw myself at an alcoholic
Vietnam veteran, the comet of his
ponytail the flag of Mr. Wrong.


In the quiet of my appeased body,
I could see the oleanders again,
starry scatter of poisonous blossoms.
I could smell the iodine ocean.
You don’t even know what love is,
the Gypsy wailed. But perhaps I did.


First thing in job-shattered morning,
I’d reach for a book that slept
with me under the pillow.
That was my real love life;
my youth, between weeping.
My star the color of ash.
Yet underneath that death,
immortal diamond.



                                                                                                                                                                                                               Oriana Ivy – please see author’s full biography in her additional works or on the Author’s Page.