Draw three cards, and I will tell your future .
Draw three cards, and lay them down, Rest your palms upon them, stare at the crystal, And think of time.
My father was a clown, My mother was a gypsy out of Egypt; And she was gotten with child in a strange way; And I was born in a cold eclipse of the moon, With the future in my eyes as clear as day.
I sit before the gold-embroidered curtain And think her face is like a wrinkled desert.
The crystal burns in lamplight beneath my eyes.
A dragon slowly coils on the scaly curtain.
Upon a scarlet cloth a white skull lies.
‘Your hand is on the hand that holds three lilies.
You will live long, love many times.
I see a dark girl here who once betrayed you.
I see a shadow of secret crimes.
‘There was a man who came intent to kill you, And hid behind a door and waited for you; There was a woman who smiled at you and lied.
There was a golden girl who loved you, begged you, Crawled after you, and died.
‘There is a ghost of murder in your blood— Coming or past, I know not which.
And here is danger—a woman with sea-green eyes, And white-skinned as a witch .
The words hiss into me, like raindrops falling On sleepy fire .
She smiles a meaning smile.
Suspicion eats my brain; I ask a question; Something is creeping at me, something vile;
And suddenly on the wall behind her head I see a monstrous shadow strike and spread, The lamp puffs out, a great blow crashes down.
I plunge through the curtain, run through dark to the street, And hear swift steps retreat .
The shades are drawn, the door is locked behind me.
Behind the door I hear a hammer sounding.
I walk in a cloud of wonder; I am glad.
I mingle among the crowds; my heart is pounding; You do not guess the adventure I have had!
Yet you, too, all have had your dark adventures, Your sudden adventures, or strange, or sweet .
My peril goes out from me, is blown among you.
We loiter, dreaming together, along the street.
Model: Miss S
Poem: The House of Dust: Nightmare by Conrad Aiken.