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,