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The Eight of Cups by Ally Malinenko

I always thought I should have been a Pisces, a water sign
but I am horribly earthbound.
Behind me, I can hear the static hum of last year
and tonight, I search through my little archives
trying to grasp all the symbols,
because I only have so much time
before I’m back at the original question.
This is winter so the ocean is getting restless.

Back when Erika told my fortune
it was spring, nearly summer and
we were just stupid kids
I got the Eight of Cups
upright
which she told me meant that I was wishing things
would have been different
and I wondered,
who wasn’t? How could anyone put any stock in that nonsense?

Ten years later, I am sitting
on the floor with my journals thrown about
trying to find some kind of meaning in the choices I didn’t make.
Some repetition in the pattern, some kind of icon that makes sense.
Wondering, in fact why things hadn’t been different.
Each tattered book, is opened, the scrawled ink leering at me, offering stoic silence
and in my hand I have found the only letter of yours that I kept.
Over the years, no matter what paper I pick up,
eventually it turns into your letter
almost, naturally

Like the tea growing cold at my side,
the purring cats,
the wine bottles that have been emptied,
the things that come about naturally
unlike your death
which was so horribly unnatural.
At first, your body was so dense, all that thick black hair
until you started to dry out,
evaporate and shred apart, paper-thin.

Your ghost, oh Christ,
it won’t stop showing up
no matter how many tattoos I get
no matter how many poems I write over the years
no matter how many nights I piece together the
broken necklace. The one you gave me
a thousand Christmas’ ago, with a wink
like you knew how it was going to end.

It’s that time I’m trying to get back to now,
Sleepwalking down to the water, to hear the waves,
with a letter
and a tarot card
and a coiled snake of silver,
buried in my pocket.
I’m trapped inside this wheel
the moments soaking together, blurring the ink.
Nothing has changed, and blindly, I’m still wishing things were different.
This time, like all the others, I don’t have any answers,
I just want to say I’m sorry.

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