Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FORTUNE TELLER, by ANN MCCRAY RINALDO



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THE FORTUNE TELLER, by            
First Line: I met a mountain woman
Last Line: "and what you hold to your heart."
Subject(s): Fortune Tellers; Palmistry


I met a mountain woman
Whose step was proud and free.
I crossed her palm with silver
And she read the cards for me;

She spread them in a curious way
And muttered all the while
A bit of ancient rigmarole
Of quaint and curious style:

"What hangs over you -- and what's at your back.
The things you have got -- and the things that you lack.
What you want -- and won't get!
What you'll get -- and regret!
What you stand on -- in part;
And what you hold to your heart."

"How can you tell these things?" I asked.
She looked at me and smiled.
"I am the seventh daughter
Of a seventh child.

My face was covered with a caul
And I was born at night,
So all my life I've had the Gift --
The Gift of Second Sight!"

Of superstitious mountain stock
I, too, was born and bred --
And suddenly I did not wish
To have my fortune read.

Strange and forgotten heritage!
What dimly prescient chime
Of warning not to tempt my fate
Rang through that curious rhyme?

"What hangs over you -- and what's at your back.
The things you have got -- and the things that you lack.
What you want -- and won't get!
What you'll get -- and regret!
What you stand on -- in part;
And what you hold to your heart."





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