Before the circus rises on the field

conquering grass with guy wires, stakes, and ropes;

before it breathes through red-striped canvas lungs,

deploying magic cats and elephants

to hypnotize the children, tempting them

to stand between two horses as they run,

or spin on wheels while knife-throwers define

the boundary between bodies and souls,

the fortune teller works the coffee shop.

She writes her orders in symbolic script,

wipes tables, swiping coins and stuffing bits

of whispered gossip in her rolled-up sleeves.

No fortune seekers recognize her when,

with crystal ball, she sells them back their lives.

published in So to Speak