Friday, June 24, 2005

preceding the post below by a couple of years


Why is there never an haruspex around
when you need one? This morning,
when I went outside, the first thing I saw

was seven crows flying silently across the
sky, bisecting it. An omen, obviously
an omen, but how to interpret it? My
knowledge of soothsaying is limited; I am
reluctant to rely solely on it. But there are
no haruspices listed in the Yellow Pages &
none of those gathered under the generic
heading of fortune tellers that I tried had any
connection to one. I cannot remember

ever having seen a shingle in the main street
amongst the dentists, lawyers & adult
book shops, though, mind you, that
phoney arcade is becoming down-at-heel
& an haruspex is just the sort of calling
that might easily find residence there. My
friends know no-one they can recommend,
making sure they point out when telling me
that of course they have no need for one,
then, as I walk away, I hear their frantic
whispering to whoever they are with
asking just exactly what it is I am
talking about. My uncertainty grows

as the day diminishes — I dislike
unfinished business, but who is there
to finish it? Finally the cat brings me back
to the fact that this is going to be a
do-it-yourself divination, depositing
on the back porch an oxymoron, a drab
exotic, a dead sparrow. I clap my hands
to drive her away & begin to explore those
entrails that she has left for me. They
are minute, messy, difficult to separate &

next to useless. By the time I have finished
I am no closer to determining what that flight
of preternaturally silent birds presaged, know
only why the Romans preferred large animals.

(first published in what was, sadly, the last issue of Linkrot has since set in.)

1 comment:

EILEEN said...

I'ma thinking -- this is the only other poem (besides one I wrote) that uses the word "haruspex." I wonder if there are others. I love that word.