Watching the Magic Act

You said there really was

something up the magician’s sleeve

despite his protests

to the contrary.

But it was my sleeves

your fingers probed,

searching for the rabbit,

the bouquet,

the endless string

of knotted handkerchiefs.


You felt for his female assistant,

thin and vulnerable,


but for the sparkle of her sequins.


When he sawed her in half,

you shuddered.


When she slipped into the trunk,

you felt each sword

he jammed right through its sides.

And when, with a snap of his fingers,

she vanished into thin air,

you sensed the depth

of her invisibility

even when he brought her back.


Still, you came home with me

that night,

wrapped yourself inside me,

like my chest, my arms,

were a magician’s cloak.

All night,

you promised yourself

you’d never be

just part of a magic act.

Unless, of course,

you were the dove

who that appears suddenly

in the palm of my hand,

flutters her pure white wings

to my thunderous applause,

then flies away,

high and unassailable,

in keeping with your magic.

JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.