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On Being Introduced at a Neighborhood Party
to a Magician's Assistant


The magician's assistant is easy to spot
by the way her arm curves like a swan's neck as she points out
a favorite piece of furniture for our inspection and approval,

the way her deathless smile charms us into believing,
disarming whatever might otherwise cut her in half.
Where does a magician find his assistant,

such a beautiful woman (though we hardly notice her!)
who will smile at his side and give nothing away?
We assume she knows, of course, and imagine

that behind her perfect teeth her mind is haunted by the knowledge
of another, secret kingdom where a dove crouches
next to the heart-hammering hare in a dark warren, waiting

to be abracadabred back to the dovecote, to lapin reality.
In that country of lifted wallets, colorfully endless handkerchiefs
and torn one-hundred-dollar bills that heal themselves,

women, cut in half, seem to dwell mindlessly under a spell,
play games with a marked deck or recline in utter weightlessness,
suspended only by our wish to believe in them.



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