Ode to Tarot


In this ode to ancient tarot cards

I touch with care new friendships painted
on pasteboard faces drawn
during man’s obscure dawn.

The single-ended carnival figures
clad in full-length costumes conceal
the profound knowledge of antiquity.

Each gamester skillfully plays
with the arcane figures at his command.
The fanciful trickster separates
the fool from his money while
the wicked fortune-teller
with astonishing accuracy lays bare
the great prophecies of life.

As one card falls another
dares to take its place
much like the evolution of life itself.

The relentless processional
out of the past
unmasks each symbol of the present
and portends the limits, which exist in
the future.

Despite the sly tricksters,
the gamesters,
the crafty gamblers,
the fortune-tellers,
none can answer the simplest of arcane questions,
whether the Major and Minor Arcana
were created together,
or took form each born of separate genius.

One yearns to discover
the ingenious mind that started it all.

What chance to find
face to face the wit who wrote
life is but a game of cards.

Instead we resign ourselves to accept
the allegorical pictures, which we do not
fully understand.

Beautiful cardboard face
I love you as an old friend
despite your unyielding guard
of the symbols shrouded
in the mysterious tarot pack
that beguile and defy us all.

Stuart R. Kaplan