I Never Went Back

by Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

It was my first spring in New York when Nancy
came to visit. The towers had fallen, and everyone
was still trying to make sense of the loss beneath

the stripped skyline; two giant columns of light
beamed against the night to remind us something
was missing. We wandered the streets near my sublet

on Second: Veselka, St. Mark’s Church, the Belgian
fries place with so many sauces. I’m not sure why
we stopped, the small psychic shop, and the large

woman who motioned us in—gray hair, draped
in a purple nightgown. Nancy, spiritual and skeptical,
refused to say yes or no when the woman pulled

the Tarot, put Nancy’s ring in her palm. If she was really
psychic, she wouldn’t need feedback to tell the future. When she
got to me, she asked if my friend could step outside.

She wanted us to talk alone. I was ready for the hard
sale, when she’d try to get me to empty my wallet
so I’d know how to win the lottery, or tell me

the line in my hand meant a long life and prosperity,
but I wasn’t expecting: there’s a dark cloud that hangs
over you and nothing in your life will ever work out.

She said, I can help you—I said I needed to think
about it as Nancy peered through the window,
pointing at her watch because she was hungry.

I didn’t trust her energy, she said, something was weird
about her. I remember the cool wind on our faces,
and the joint we smoked on the lumpy futon

as we talked poems and men and how she thought the city
was a great fit for me, and I remember the woman
watching us walk away through the storefront glass,

staring at me from inside my own reflection
that I was afraid to look too long at.

Last updated November 07, 2022