Mimi Herman, Cassandra

Mimi Herman

Cassandra was very popular at parties
for the first five minutes.
After that, guests tired of her tricks.
The teenagers peeled off for spin the bottle,
the grown-ups for poker.

Everyone prefers a game of chance
where you win or lose big.
Who wants to know the outcome in advance?

Which is why we forgot what she said
and what her voice sounded like, or even,
eventually, the color of her hair
and whether she was long-waisted with thin lips
or thick-waisted with a long nose.

Which is why, no matter how often she told us what would happen,
we bet over and over on the same bad hand
as if it were a foreign verb we forced ourselves to conjugate,
never getting the tenses right.

Which is why, after awhile,
no one invited her to parties
and we, playing long odds with a short deck,
lost to the house of history every time.

Author’s Comment: I have a lot of empathy for people who don’t get heard. Imagine a lifetime of saying profoundly important things that nobody remembers. I loved the idea of Cassandra at a party, and the opportunity to play with the language of gambling, not to mention the language of language. And I love the fact that even though nobody’s listening, she’s always right. A real huzzah for those of us who sometimes get accused of being know-it-alls. By the way, there’s a slight tip of the hat to Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” in the third stanza.

Bio: Mimi Herman is the author of The Art of Learning. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, The Hollins Critic and other journals. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. Mimi has worked as an arts and education consultant since 1990, engaging over 25,000 students and teachers with writing residencies, as well as providing extensive professional development for teachers and teaching artists. She has been a writer-in-residence at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Vermont Studio Center. Mimi does her own carpentry and plumbing, and can milk a cow and a goat, though not at the same time. You can find her at http://www.mimiherman.com. Her chapbook, Logophilia, is available from Main Street Rag at http://www.mainstreetrag.com/MHerman.html.

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