The Nine of Cups

She called it The Wish Card, my psychic
grandmother hoping over and over for
love although she worried most
about money. She

took potions for sleep, a mind
that would not settle. Ghosts
plagued her daily, hiding the coveted
card with its brimming

chalices. Symbol of more
than plenty. She told in alleys
and back bedrooms, for whatever
they could give her: flour,

ribbons, plums, a bone-colored
button. Hungry women, women
whose husbands kept the money
as tight as an angry fist

whose only hope was fortune and greatest
risk was wish, that many-hearted
card, the one, once found, she slipped
under her pillow

the one her husband tore in half. Tape
too dear, she sewed it together
like a wound. The one card now
her fingers always found in the deck.


*Originally published in Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology (Minor Arcana Press, 2015).

Joanne M. Clarkson’s full-length poetry collection The Fates won Bright Hill Press’s annual contest and will be published in Spring 2017. Her chapbook Believing the Body was published by Gribble Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Catamaran Literary Reader, Emrys Journal, Fjords Review, Edge, and Pinyon. Joanne holds master’s degrees in English and Library Science, and has taught and worked as a professional librarian. After caring for her mother through a long illness, she re-careered as an RN specializing in home health and hospice care. She lives with her husband and three cats in Olympia, Washington.

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