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Suppose the past could not be recalled
any more than we can foretell
the future, that in order to remember
we'd have to visit an oracle,
or a storefront gypsy reading Tarot,
or consult astrologers
who could, so to speak, forecast history
by the alignment of stars.

There'd be no photographs,
but foreign grandmothers could recapture
our childhoods by reading the wrinkles
in tea bags. At a singles bar,
some after-work seeress might take our hands
and trace the lines of our palms
back to our first love affairs.

At such moments, the past
would suddenly bloom into consciousness
with a shock like clairvoyance.
What had happened would seem to loom
with the mystery of what will happen,
and stunned by this unwanted gift, we'd pray
for the revelation to be lifted.

For such visions become blinding.
Citizens of the shattered, ordinary order
would find themselves struggling to survive,
strung out somewhere between amnesia
and a paralyzing nostalgia, while those
most gifted with the second sight of memory
would wander honored, feared, and reviled,
as prophets wander through our present world.


From Streets In Their Own Ink (FSG)