In a sterile room, he sits across from me.
Modern, polished, exact, seemingly honest,
he wears a pristine coat.
A gray machine spews out shiny white sheets,
strewn with black, bubbly dots. The papers
tell him, he tells me, I have no more than six
months to live, give or take a month. He does
not look at me. Then he leaves. I feel cold
in this chilled room.
My friends tell me to go see our own sage,
our own bokor. After all, it is my life, my death.
I ask myself, what I could I lose.
My children will go mad if they find out I have gone
back to the old ways, but they always seem mad,
regardless. They are not as I used to be with my elders.
They call our bokor a witch doctor, a charlatan.
No, they have no respect for our ways.
I will go see Pierre, our grand bokor.
He is right outside town. I like his ways.
Instead of magic on my blood he will do it
on a white chicken’s head.
I will at least see his magic. I will be part of it.
He uses no machines. Then he will take the
polished bones out of his worn leather pouch,
and cast them across his dirt floor, as we have done
for thousands of years. They will roll, and how
and where they stop, he will interpret for me.
His house is warm and I prefer it to this office.
I will hear Pierre’s deep, calming voice,
and see the warm shine of ebony on his face.
When and if he says six months, I will feel
he has granted me eternity, for his words
will have come from the spirits of my people,
of my blood, unlike the man who read
me my sentence of black letters.
Unlike Pierre’s bones, they have no soul.