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.