An Oracle, a Fortune Teller, an Artist by Virgil Voyles

An oracle.
Is what my grandmother would have been way back in the times of Zeus and Hades 
She would sit alone upon her hill in her hidden cave and people brave enough would ask her questions 
And from their desperate words she would tell them what she saw, what she heard, and what they had to fear 
Maybe in those times I would ask her for my fate
I would ask her what was going to happen to me 
What had happened to every person I had loved and lost 
Maybe in those times I would walk the treacherous path to her lair and leave her baked goods outside the cave 
She would sit me down and tell me what the gods had told her that day
The stories she had
The things she had seen and heard and experienced
How Zeus himself had descended to whisper in her ear the truth of the world How she drank with Dionysus 
And danced with Apollo
And I would be in awe of her
Her! With this great ability she has been gifted with! 
Bless her! 

In a later time she would be a fortune teller
She would sit in town squares in the medieval ages
Meeting people and telling them their truth
People would be amazed as to how she had such knowledge
She would be summoned by the king himself for predictions on the fate of the kingdom 
She would dine with royalty
And would be gifted gold for her services to the king 
She would be considered a weapon, praised by those who had her and feared by those who didn’t
In that time I would sit down with her at markets and help bring people in 
Tell them that she was never wrong
That she really did know the unknowable
That it was all true 
She was a miracle 

If we had lived in any other time maybe we could have been friends 
Maybe she would have been loved and praised and blessed by the people of her village 
But today, she is the crazy old lady who lives up on the hill she was born on 
Who mumbles to herself about government conspiracies 
And who lives in not a cave, but a hollow shell of the house she grew up in 
And who is not loved and praised and blessed by some, but is feared by all
A misfortune of bad timing and bad genes 
In another life she would be an artist 
People would talk about the handprints of paint on her door like how an art student dissects a Da Vinci portrait 
Instead of thinking about the truth, she covered herself in paint for no good reason and it is from opening her door
One could call it symbolism
Most call it a sign of her illness
The poets would talk her of beauty and greatness
Unlike me who talks of the “could have beens” and “should haves” in her life 
She could have been great
She could have had a rich, happy life with her family
She could have been known throughout the land
The same way she should have been there
She should have protected her family
She should have helped herself to help the ones she loved

But she didn’t
The same way she isn’t an oracle. Or a fortune teller
Or an artist
Just a crazy old woman

Virgil Voyles is a 16-year-old writer from Knoxville, Tennessee, and is the city’s current Youth Poet Laureate. 

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