Painting by Grace Cavalieri

You have two dozen in your kitchen drawers. They fold into mouths ready to speak. Baked to brittleness, they taste like sweet nothings and whisper sweet nothings. They aren’t worth eating when you can’t order anything deep-fried and must always say, “Hold the rice.” Somehow it seems petty to say, “Hold the fortune cookies.” You toss the little mouths into the big mouth of a trash bag. They make a sound between a rustle and a thud.

Why read them? You know everything they have to tell you. Half of them are maxims of good behavior that remind you of school books you hated. The other half have nothing to do with your life. You and your friends used to add, “In bed,” to the end of each fortune. When a bed can be in the ICU, it isn’t funny anymore.

For the hell of it, you open one: “Why not treat yourself to a good time instead of waiting for someone else to do it?” The whole world gasps in ventilators, dying for a good time in bed or out.

You kept the last fortune you opened before this: “You will have a comfortable old age.” You need no other. It contains, so you believe, two messages of hope: that you will have comfort, and that you will have an old age.

Miles David Moore

Miles David Moore is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, the latest of which, Man on Terrace with Wine, was published by Kelsay Books in 2020. He is a retired journalist who contributes a monthly film column to the online arts magazine Scene4. From 1994 to 2017, he organized and hosted the IOTA poetry reading series in Arlington, Va. From 2002 to 2009, he was a member of the board of directors of The Word Works.

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