i ask her if she knows my name
and she said
she thinks she remembers
it from back in school
i ask her if it is snowing where she is
and she said
it never snows
i ask her if i can see her sometime
and she said
sometime is too far away
i ask her how about now
and she said
now is already too late
and when i see her
i ask her
what is this for
and she said
for all
those times
we couldn’t be together
she said
She said she’s almost perfect.

I looked at her, a little concerned, and she said, "No, in the reincarnated sense." She said Buddhists believe a person reincarnates until they become a cow – a cow being the most sacred being. I don’t know if this is true, but that’s what she told me, and for the time being I believe it. But she’s not a Buddhist, so she’s not going to be a cow, she’ll just reincarnate until she becomes perfect and gets to stay in heaven.

She said she’s an old soul. I asked her how old she was and she told me not to be stupid. I wasn’t trying to be stupid. She said she’s not old in age, she’s just lived many lives already. More than most people. She said that right now, at this point, it would seem as if I was older than her, but really I was much younger.

I asked her how she knew and she said she knows because she’s naïve. I told her being naïve usually is a sign that you’re young, not old. She told me it’s a voluntary naivety, it’s completely different from simply living a sheltered life. She said after the kinds of lives she’s lived, she has chosen to be naïve because it’s just so much easier, so much nicer.

She began to talk about her past lives. She said she’s not sure of the chronology so she won’t even try.

She said in one life she was a cat, probably a black one with really big, green eyes. She was a house cat, kept inside, did nothing but lay around all day, you know, the good life, she said.

She said she lived in the Renaissance period in France. She was rich, but doesn’t remember much else about this life.

She said she was also rich when she lived in Virginia on a plantation. She was nice to the slaves, she said. She had one of those houses with the porches all around, and she had her own horse, named Sugar, probably. This was one of her favorite lives because she could run around the gardens barefoot in those huge skirts that billowed when the wind blew.

She said she was also rich when she lived somewhere in New England in a beautiful brownstone. She was raised by a nanny, and learned French at an early age. French came easy to her, naturally, since she once was French. Just as I was beginning to wonder how she could claim she’s been through a lot, she started on the next life.

She said she lived as a peasant somewhere, maybe in Russia. She said her father had been killed by soldiers, one brother was killed during a riot, and the rest of her family had all been killed by a plague or something when she was really young. She was left homeless and froze to death outside.

Then she said she was in the Holocaust. She didn’t say anymore about that.

She said she was a horse. She said she was a Native American and lived in a wigwam. She said she lived in Jesus’ village but didn’t believe anything he said was true. She looked regretful and shook her head when she talked about that one.

She said she lived in the '20s, the '50s, and she was definitely a teenager in the '70s. I asked her how all of that was possible. She gave me another look, but explained anyway.

She said she lived in the US during the '20s and thoroughly enjoyed the economic boom. She said she died, came back as a gypsy who lived in Poland. Then came the Holocaust. Died young. She said she was born again in the US right before they dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki. She grew up in the '50s, poodle skirts, milk shakes, and all. It sounded almost fun. Until she said she died of cancer before she turned 15. Born again mid-1960s, had some fun in the '70s. Too much fun. She’s not sure how she died, she said she doesn’t remember dying that time. She said she thought it was weird how in most of her recent lives she had been born in the US. She said quite matter-of-factly that maybe God wants her to help out around here.

She says she’s going to save the world. Who is she to say she’ll save the world? And save it from what? If you ask me, we’re all in so much trouble it’s impossible to assume that one person will be able to save us all. She saw the look in my eye when I said that, and then I saw one in hers.

It’s all coming together now, she said.

I wrote the following poem about forty years ago, part of a number of

Faux-Shakespearean sonnets to one particular young lady; this

happens to be one of the few I can recall in its entirety.


Thou lov'st me not? How sadly 'tis expressed

And vainly thy fond heart compassion feels

For which of two, think'st thou, should have the best:

The Goddess bravely praised, or he who kneels?

If thou did'st never so in darkness go

That seeing me might cause the Sun to rise

Nor at my touch the joys  of Heaven know

Or found the soul of beauty in mine eyes -

Why, whose is then the loss and whose the gain?

And which of us in truth must poorer be?

For Love such riches brings to ease love's pain

As turn all else compar'd to poverty

If thou must pity, pity for my sake

That cannot give thee back what I do take!

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