From Issue 12: The Fortune Cookie

Richard Jones

 

At five o’clock on a Tuesday I met my friend Mark at Piccadilly. He’d been in the Scottish Highlands; I’d been in Paris. He still talks about how strange it was to be in another country and to see my young face appearing like an apparition out of the crowds. Under Cupid’s aimed bow and arrow, we stood with our arms around the girls we loved back then, as a polite English punk with spiked blue hair took our snapshot. In the evening a light rain was falling as the four of us walked through SoHo, looking for a place to eat. We turned a corner and there was Le Ho Fook’s, the Chinese restaurant Warren Zevon sings about in “Werewolves of London.” At dinner Mark tied together everything under the sun—Virginia Wolfe walking into the river, the lions of heraldry, the tragic introduction of the tea bag into English culture, the lofty oculus in the Reading Room of the British Library. We all agreed: we do not wander aimlessly in this world, but rather everything calls us to the ground of our being. Rivers and lions. Books and arrows. The hopes of youth have vanished and more than two decades have passed since that night. Yet still I carry in my wallet—as if it were a talisman or the tiniest poem ever written—the little strip of paper with its words of wisdom: “Everything is not yet lost.”

 

Richard Jones is the author of seven books from Copper Canyon Press, including The Correct Spelling & Exact Meaning. Editor of Poetry East and its many anthologies, including Paris, Origins, and Bliss, he also edits the free worldwide poetry app, “The Poet’s Almanac.”