Carl Sandburg

Gypsy Mother

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.