Tarot Cards – by Louise Wilford


Facing her, he pressed the cards face down upon the bed. She stared
at their wheat-pale backs. You have to ask a question, he said, reading
the instructions on the box. Facing him, she realised she would never

ask. She would be answered, though, at last, with a closing door and
a glimpse from her bedroom window of his fingers on the steering wheel,
as he tried to believe it was over. The texture of the curtains twisting

in her hands, the smell of dust and perfume. That day would be the last
time they would meet. He’d drive into the fog, out of her way, then later
he’d be killed on the three peak run. It was the wrong time of the year

for Snowdon. She’d mourn him long before, ache from the moment
his tail lights blinked as he rounded the corner. Dream of his hands on
her hair. Remember the scar on his back from the time he slipped

on Ben Nevis. That’s how they’d know it was him, his face smashed
all to bits. She’d hear about it on the news. Man’s body found. Recall
the way he whispered cariad against her neck, into her ear, leaned

into her on castle ramparts, snuck his fingers through the buttons
on her blouse when no one looked. She’d recall that snag in his voice
long after the move to London, marriage, a career. Behind it all, she’d

know that bloom of pain as he pulled away and the fog took him home.
Cariad, whispered soft against her skin. And as she died – breast cancer,
forty-six – she’d remember that day, when she was twenty-three, facing

him across his brother’s bed in their house in Colwyn Bay, watching
him place the tarot cards his aunt had left behind, in a cross on the duvet,
him saying What do you want to know? You have to ask a question.



Louise Wilford has been writing poetry and prose since childhood and has had poems published in a variety of literary magazines including Agenda, Acumen, South, OWP, The Stinging Fly and Pushing Out The Boat.  She has also won or been shortlisted for numerous competitions including the National Poetry Competition and the Templar Poetry Pamphlet Competition. She works as an English teacher and A Level examiner, and lives in Yorkshire.  She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

3 thoughts on “Tarot Cards – by Louise Wilford

  1. An excellent creepy short story. But what makes it a poem as opposed to a short story divided into poem-like stanzas?

    I can, and do, embrace the idea that a poem might be anything that suddenly reaches out to you, speaks to you, moves or delights – a person, a picture, a natural object, a snatch of music – maybe a collection words that appear to mean nothing and yet create an overwhelming mood, or a pattern of some kind – even words that are placed together solely for their sounds or linguistic ‘resonances’.

    To me, whilst this is a fine little story, it isn’t a poem. A poem has that one extra, indefinable ingredient – something that is independent of any arrangement on paper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to avoid definitions of poetry. It is a popular pastime and many editors try (often with bullet point lists) but any attempt throws up so many obvious exceptions to the ‘rules’ it becomes pointless. Sometimes poetry is in the eye of the beholder and the intent of the writer. There is plenty of writing defined as poetry that I do not understand as being such, but others do.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope that the rhythm of the lines and the spaces between the stanzas etc make it a poem, but in the end a poem is what you decide it is. I think this is a poem. You don’t. It’s a matter of personal judgement, I suppose. It also wasn’t intended to be ‘creepy’, so I have really missed the mark with you, rosiebooks2009! I think myself that it is a poem because it feels like a poem to me – I tried to compress the events and emotions into a poem rather than a short story. I wanted the different parts to resonate together. Whether it works of course is entirely a matter of individual judgement! Sorry you didn’t like it.

    Just a thought: what about conventional narrative poems – Goblin Market, The Pied Piper, Paradise Lost, Venus and Adonis, etc? They are telling stories but using conventional poetic formats. Are they poems simply because they are set out like poems and often use rhyme and other poetic devices?


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