Bad things are going to happen.
 Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
 and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
 melting in the car and throw
 your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
 Your husband will sleep 
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling 
out of her blouse. Or your wife
 will remember she’s a lesbian
 and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat– 
the one you never really liked– will contract a disease 
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
 every four hours. Your parents will die. 
No matter how many vitamins you take,
 how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys, 
your hair and your memory. If your daughter 
doesn’t plug her heart 
into every live socket she passes,
 you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
 the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
 and called the used appliance store for a pick up– drug money.
 There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger. 
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
 and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
 And two mice– one white, one black– scurry out 
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point 
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
 She looks up, down, at the mice.
 Then she eats the strawberry.
 So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse 
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
 slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel 
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
 Oh taste how sweet and tart
 the red juice is, how the tiny seeds 
crunch between your teeth.

-Ellen Bass


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