Don’t Ask Me My Sign. {poetry}

{Photo credit: Paula McHenry Barkmeier via Toby Israel}


I went to a talk recently, along with a beautiful cast of unique, conscious characters. The warm lighting and gleaming wood floors of the space invited conversation, and many of us lingered after the talk had ended.

I struggled to follow the full discussion in Spanish, but I clearly understood the last question, asked as the stragglers were already moving toward the door: What sign are you?

We announced our astrological signs and said our goodbyes, some nodding with contentment as if now we were properly acquainted.

I thought back to other people in other places who had asked me the same question, and nodded in the same knowing way: Men in bars, women in Yoga classes, new acquaintances in hostels, friends of friends at parties. It’s not that they’re wrong to ask; it’s just that, the way I see it, it’s not really the right question either — not if you really want to know someone. Maybe this will help clarify…


Don’t ask me what sign I am.
Whether it tells you a lot about me
or nothing at all,
the house my sun sits in
can’t tell you the most important thing of all,

The song I sing in the space between breaths
The way that I kiss
The wings at my back
The spark in my eye
(neither Libran nor Pisces)
The music in my hips
or the stories I hide.

All of this is mine and mine alone;
I do not share it with a multitude
born beneath my moon.
Oh, sure, it can give you hints;
of that I have no doubt,
but don’t nod your head
like you’ve got it all figured out —
You know nothing yet.

Don’t ask me about my sun, my moon, my stars;
Don’t think they will teach you my triumphs and scars.
The truth you are seeking won’t come in a word.
The secrets I’m keeping will speak when I want them heard.
Don’t ask me my sign — no, don’t ask me that yet.
Don’t say without knowing me, “Ah yes, that makes sense.”
For if you truly knew my story, from beginning to now,
You’d realize I’ve been here lifetimes,
Under many moons, and every sign.

If you really want to know me, then ask me better questions —

What song do you sing?
Can I see your wings? And
How do you dance to the music in your hips?
What makes your eyes shine?
What stories do you hide?
What do you know in this moment in time?

Ask, and I will tell you — maybe.
But don’t ask me my sign.

Ask me what language my soul speaks.
I will tell you:

Ask me what color saturates my dreams.

I will tell you:

Don’t ask me what year, what month, what day I was born;

Ask me why I came into this world.
I will tell you:
I don’t know yet, but I can’t wait to find out.


Toby IsraelToby Israel is an incorrigible vagabond. She travels in search of dragons, mermaids, adventures and searches… and cross-cultural understanding. Avid dancer, yogi, cook and lover of words, she is inspired by movement and poetry, good food and new things. She studied Anthropology at Middlebury College, and now works as an editor at elephant journal. She also continues to find her way in the world as a 21st century nomad, and you can share her journey at Next Stop World, TwitterFacebook and Instagram.


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