The Failed Magician
I can turn a hat into confetti
and repair it with one kiss.
Seven mice dance the conga
on a regular basis because of me.
All of my assistants have been
sliced into thirds and come back together
beautifully, with a curtsy.
The roses I pass turn purple.
Even when I try to show restraint
the bath towels fold themselves
into swans. But I have never been
able to make even a penny vanish.
I break whole rows of glasses on a
whim, then repair them. But I cannot
make them appear to disappear.
They are always visible.
Two Flights Away
When he left my mother called it a work trip, then a sabbatical;
finally she said he died. But we never visited a hospital.
There was no funeral. Even at seven I knew that heaven was not
a phone call away, yet my mother kept blocking new telephone
numbers. Each year the house contained less of him: his clothes,
his books, all of his trains, vanished, their absence noticed only
later. I always thought they ended up at the Goodwill, but
at fourteen I found my father on Facebook. He was wearing
his favorite hat. His train collection, his cover picture.
There was no new child in his arm, no new women kissing him;
just a well-ordered life, clean and neat, even long-distance.
His city one I had never heard the name of before. Whenever
anyone asks about him now, I say he is buried in Santa Fe.
She is listed as wearing a white T-shirt, blue
jeans, and black heels. When she got dressed that day
she wasn’t thinking about police reports
or posterity. She might have factored in the
weather. When people go missing, the majority
are reduced to three lines of text; at least
one sentence focuses on fashion. Large tattoos
are helpful and always mentioned. There are many
crosses, many flames, among the gone. Then there is
the last place they were seen, the date they vanished.
Sometimes the location is specific (his father’s house
on Eldorado Rd); other times it is a whole city, say Tampa
or Toronto. But it can be confusing. One woman
either went missing on the first of January from
Santa Monica, or the nineteenth of January from San Francisco.
They do tend to bunch around the holidays,
Christmas and New Year’s particularly. Hundreds
vanishing on the same day from different places,
unrelated, strangers to one another, to me.
Caitlin Thomson has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Tar River Poetry Review, The Adroit Journal and Killer Verse. Territory Prayer, her third chapbook, was published by Maverick Duck Press.
Image credit: Candice Seplow