This column is the first of an ongoing series in which Emma Marie Jones draws three tarot cards and unpacks the symbolism in the spread, applying its meaning to recent events in her life and the world.
Ace of cups
Intuition — Awareness — Possibility
Like two weeks ago I stood outside a marketplace in Vietnam and tried to get a good photo of the giant display of lilypads and lotus flowers for the gram. I couldn’t get a good one because the traffic never stopped, and because my arms weren’t long enough, I couldn’t hold my phone high enough to capture all that neon pink and green. Nothing shows up the way it really looks at nighttime when you photograph it anyway, like nighttime is a secret world immune to being shared. Every time I saw those flowers I thought of TV chef Luke Nguyen reaching into the river and tearing a giant pink petal, pliant and supple and curved like a hip, and using it to wrap up some salad so he could eat it like a spring roll. When he took a bite for the camera, I felt like I was watching something obscene. The lilypad floating on the water beside him was bigger than a seat on the train.
The sweat on my cheeks and in the creases of my elbows can be mistaken for a kind of radiance, when you look back at the photos of my trip. On both of us. The sweat on both of us. A blushy sheen and curve of limb, like what I saw on those giant petals, smooth and perfect and luminous with a possession of both function and form.
Six of swords
Despondence — Transition — Recovery
I saw a picture of Justin Bieber eating out front of a chicken shop in Sydney. A buffer of emptiness, like one metre, and then a crowd of teenage girls in white Reeboks staring, just staring. Just watching the chicken go from his plate to his fork to his mouth. Just planning to order the same menu item ASAP so their tastebuds can have a sensory experience that Justin Bieber’s tastebuds had. Maybe if they go there real quickly, they’ll touch something that he touched without interference from an external source. Maybe they’ll use the same plate or fork, thereby putting something in their mouths that was inside his mouth. He looks thin and bummed in the photo. The cop is smiling like crowd control is funny, cute, these teens just want to touch their idol and they should be allowed to, probably, he’s like “I’m just a smiling cop I don’t make the law I just reinforce it, but in a friendly and pop-culturally relevant way, my state’s social media uses memes now everyone”! The teens are gawking so blatantly I feel kind of embarrassed.
I think the air in my apartment is getting more pure because of the Boston Fern, even though I keep nearly killing it. But where else would I go to breathe?
Introspection — Solitude — Stillness
I wanna watch a transcendental yoga video. I wanna have a transcendental experience, you know? But a tactile one, through the screen. My body is getting in the way. I can’t do downward dog without checking my reflection. When I meditate I’m scared I’m just pretending to have an audience. A dress rehearsal for the world outside my bedroom. I want everybody to know I have a really expensive yoga mat and I am embarrassed about that facet of my personality. It’s not like I’m looking for attention. It’s just that whenever I’m in a situation where I could get attention, I don’t say no.
I’m always aware of the fourth wall that separates me from everything else. Everyone else. My phone is a fourth wall. My bedroom window, looking out at ground level onto a main arterial road, is a fourth wall. My skin is a fourth wall. My body is the break in it.
Emma Marie Jones is a Melbourne-based poet and writer. Her work has appeared in Seizure, Meanjin, Scum Mag, Alien She Zine, Stilts, Shabby Doll House and The Lifted Brow.