Rhapsody in Burque

Chapter Three: Princess Esmeralda

Maybe you'll find yourself wandering Downtown. If you're lucky, perhaps you'll notice a mysterious green booth stationed by the sidewalk. If you're really paying attention, you'll see most people are not noticing it, which will at first quicken your steps, your feet ready to rush past this hand-painted stand featuring a smiling old man in a top hat with a goose.

WHAT? Your feet crash to a halt. The man's bright eyes sparkle with amusement above his flowing white beard. He has seen this before.

“Would you like Princess Esmeralda to tell your fortune?”


“Princess Esmeralda.”

He nods at the enormous white goose cradled in his arms. She honks and smacks you with a solid, black-eyed gaze. Who would say anything except, “Yes, please.” Nimble hands produce a well-loved tarot deck, which he invites you to hold and energize, then spreads on the table before you.

“Choose a card.”

If you're lucky, you might draw a card like I did...


“The Breakthrough Card! Oh! The Princess says this is a truly dynamic selection!”


“She says that whatever your next endeavor, be it music, writing, it will come forth in true concert style.”

Honk honk!

I lock eyes with the downy white princess. Is this coincidence or can she recognize a musician with a fresh new job at a newspaper??


Her bright orange beak silently jabbers at me, our eyes glued together.

“There is everything in this deck. Schizophrenia, pain, the worst. You avoided all of it. You will come forth with much light. Light bursting from the solar plexus.”

Stunned and bewildered, but mostly charmed, I grasp for my words.

“Thank you.”

I drop what dollars I have into the jar where this generous gentleman is raising funds for the nearby community art center. It is nowhere near enough to exchange for making my day.

“Do you take baths?” I ask.

“Yes...” (Subtext: “What is this strange girl getting at?”)

“Then take this, too.”

I pass a handmade bath bomb into his hands (just acquired from Java Joe's, where you can find an amazing line of handmade body products, just saying). Stunned and bewildered, but mostly charmed, he thanks me and we bid farewell. Princess Esmeralda honks and jabbers as I slowly drift away on dazed feet, glancing once over my shoulder to make sure they're really there, to assure myself that yes, that just happened.