They had the gift. Hidden about them
like a penny at the bottom of a pocket.
But theirs was a silver coin. On high days
they flattened your hand, palm up and
snap, out of their mouths flowed planets
and stars, life’s stink and honey, babies
being born, relationships stalling, illnesses
yet to come. Never a date of death,
only a hint of feather, of crow. I laughed
as a child, thought them witches, hoodwinkers.
Now the crow cracks the glass, the moon turns her head,
the evening thickens with visions from aunts long-dead.
About this poem
This poem was chosen by Aoife Lyall as part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s ‘Champions’ project, a guest curatorship programme to help extend our national reach.
Lyall says, ‘Valentine’s poem is one that intertwines the complicities and complexities of vision. It is understated and forceful, earthy and other worldly, comforting and disconcerting, a recognition that vision is subject, not only to the viewers’ willingness, but also their ability to see what is in front of them.’
Valentine says, ‘My poem is based on true-life experiences with two of my great-aunts and one of their daughters… [and] their fortune-telling skills… decades later… the daughter told my fortune/past again. It was eerily accurate.’