black magic women

I found my grandmother’s
tarot cards today,
tucked into a box
of fragile things.
I never even knew she read,
but she was a woman,
and more importantly
an artist, at a certain time,
so I can’t say
it surprised me all that much.

My mother read them,
too, but her cards
were her inheritance to me,
and I’ve used them well.

Apparently I come
from magic and madness
on both sides,
born to read tarot
and gaze longingly
at the moon
and manifest miracles
no matter the odds.

My grandmother
didn’t like me
all that much,
but it wasn’t personal.
At her funeral,
nobody said anything
personal about her,
except for my father
and that was almost
very bad.

Her art, they all said.
She made everything
an art form,
even her synagogue attendance.
I suppose
there are worse legacies.

So we weren’t close,
but that doesn’t mean
there’s no connection.

I can see her
in my mind’s eye,
seated at a table
in her Tribeca loft
with a glass of wine
and cards shuffled
and spread out before her,
the slight hunch
in her shoulders
smoothed out by
a candle burning in
a votive holder
as she tries to figure out
where she can exert
her not inconsiderable will.

She probably saw
herself as the Empress,
the High Priestess,
with wands to do her bidding.

I wonder if she
asked the cards
about my father,
about the forgiveness
she wanted and only
got shortly before
she passed away.

I wonder if she saw
me finding them,
sparks of memories
that never happened
flitting across my synapses.

Maybe she just
liked them for the art.
But I think
it was more than that.
The women who came
before me have all
been witches.


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