This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2021

The Magician

New poetry from our summer reading issue

Michelle Brown

He appears out of nowhere rarely ends well. It could be years until you notice

how he altered your life like a hook
around your waist, pulling you off the dance floor.

He appeared out of nowhere. He sat down,
laid one palm open on the table and hid the other.

I read it as he started up my leg:
a long life, a happy happy happy life.

I don’t believe it, I say.
But it happens in front of my eyes.

The whole thing: children / dogs
and cut vegetables clogging the sink,

cancer and his hand around my jaw,
a pressure that shakes something good out of me.

He appeared like a hand starting the magic show: gloved, so you can’t see the trick, so you just go for it.

Where’d she go?, the crowd asks. She’s right there, she’s in the wings,

waiting for another song or a better magician.

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