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James

James became my lover on the day when he refused
To saw me through the middle.
"Whoever thought of that trick," he said, "had a sick mind."
So instead I chased the rabbits, caught the doves,
Like it was my heart hopping and flying away,
Like a thousand silk scarves flew out of his sleeve
And fell in love.
And James worked with a feverish intensity that day,
With a passion,
And the crowd was in his hand; you could hear the gasps and cries
Above the cymbals crashing.
And the endless paper streamers that he pulled from out his cheek,
And the fountain of confetti made my knees weak and unsteady,
But I stood there in those little shoes until intermission,
When James touched my elbow and he led me out back to the trailer,
And oh!
What I cannot tell you!
Except to say that James was a magician.

James had ambition and imagination.
He was quickly bored with the magic tricks that he bought at magic stores
And so we'd stay up late nights in the trailer learning magic
Of his own invention.
Some things turned out impossible,
And some were just too strange or dangerous to mention.
But soon it became clear
That James' talent was to make things disappear.
At first he practiced on the petty cash.
Soon he could vanish magazines and trash.
And then it was the laundry and the pictures on the wall,
And then the small appliance, then anything at all,
And soon the trailer was completely bare.

But James' reputation grew and when we came to town,
There would be crowds of people there.
They would line up around the block,
Bring their old refrigerators, broken teevee sets,
Bald tires and aging pets,
And James would make them vanish,
With a drum roll and a flourish,
And of course sometimes there would be a scene.
Often the police were summoned
In the pandemonium
And finally we were shut down.

We were left with nothing but each other,
Sleeping at the greyhound station,
And I admit, I sometimes wished I had a lover
With a gift for manifestation,
But then one day we saw a poster
Hanging in the drugstore window
For a small-time flea-bag circus
Guess James thought we might find work because
He touched my arm and we ran down.
And just as we arrived it was time for the magic show,
But the magician could not be found! There was just his tuxedo
Lying crumpled on the ground!
So James stepped into his shoes, he buttoned on his vest.
He was like a man possessed.
He snatched the doves and rabbits from their cage,
Pulled them in and out of hats and sleeves
And there were silk scarves flying all around the stage,
And the ragged crowd was on their feet,
The hollerers and screamers,
For that fountain of confetti and the endless paper streamers,
And then oh!
What I should have feared!
What took my breath and dropped my jaw!
That contraption was wheeled in,
And someone handed James a saw!
And the rest is in slow motion,
How he touched my elbow, dried my tear.
Gently he set me up on that table, raised his sawġ
And made me disappear.

©1998 Annie Gallup

 

Annie  
 
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