From medieval times

Romani women

Peering at palms

Some silken soft

Fewer worn and callused

Mapping wet tea leaves

Extracting colorful dyes from

Precious saffron

Strong spices

Local flora, used to

Embellish wood chips

Painted arcane symbols

Touched by the questor’s hands

Anxiously listening to

Forthcoming flutterings

Struggling to earn a few coins

That will stay sewn

Into the hem of the skirt

Lined with tiny mirrors

Reflecting jakhalo

Whether the Evil Eye

Deliberate or accidental

Part of the colorful clothes

An Eastern European version

Of the sari once worn

Before driven from the homeland

Into a freezing diaspora

Scattering all over the world

Some unluckily becoming slaves

Feeding the maw of

Greedy jaws

Until desrobireja


In the 19th century

Freedom once again

To travel the muddy roads

Never escape, though,

From need and someone else’s greed

Saving those few coins of comfort

In a romanticized job

With longer hours

Than nine to five

I, no better than my ancestors

The working poor

Trying to stay alive…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  A Chance Meeting with a Fortune-Teller, Adrien Moreau 1834-1906





  1. This was so beautiful, Clarissa. I found myself reading it over and over to try and learn more about this history. We don’t pay enough attention to the stories of oppressed people. We pretend they don’t exist so we don’t have to examine ourselves and see how we might be just like them. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Christine. I am grateful for the internet that allows us to reveal that we really are no different than others although we have some very interesting cultural knowledge 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, awesome. In London I remember the UK as the only nation willing to accept Rom refuges. Children with faces slashed. Families with homes burnt down. Angry Eastern European neighbors because the Rom already understood capitalism. One time I was reading cards at a restaurant and three Hungarian Rom men entered and sat with me assuming that I was Rom because whoever else would be reading cards in the restaurant? And one of them hit on me reading my palm, which can be incredibly sensual if that is what you’re going for 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yeah, palm reading is VERY sensual! That may be why my Gran never taught me that 🙂 She was mostly a card reader and tea leaf reader and definitely a dream interpreter and physical healer.

      Liked by 1 person

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