In a hole-in-a-wall on Halsted Street sits a gypsy woman,
In a garish, gas-lit rendezvous, in a humpback higgling hole-in-a-wall.
The left hand is a tattler; stars and oaths and alphabets
Commit themselves and tell happenings gone, happenings to come,
pathways of honest people, hypocrites.
“Long pointed fingers mean imagination; a star on the third finger
says a black shadow walks near.”
Cross the gypsy’s hand with fifty cents, and she takes your left hand
and reads how you shall be happy in love, or not, and whether
you die rich, or not.
Signs outside the hole-in-a-wall say so, misspell the promises, scrawl
the superior gypsy mysteries.
A red shawl on her shoulders falls with a fringe hem to a green skirt;
Chains of yellow beads sweep from her neck to her tawny hands.
Fifty springtimes must have kissed her mouth holding a calabash
She pulls slow contemplative puffs of smoke. She is a shape for
ghosts of contemplation to sit around and ask why something
cheap as happiness is here; and more besides chapped lips, rough
eyes, red shawl.
She is thinking about somebody and something—the same as Whistler’s
mother sat and thought about somebody and something.
In a hole-in-a-wall on Halsted Street are stars, oaths, alphabets.