Magic Shown

At midnight I'd get home and we'd touch the tips of greeting—like reptiles. Exchange pecks like captive doves. The TV flared and flickered, waved the truth of its blue-scarved love: flames along the walls of that apartment's call numbers and vowels. Our exhaled clouds mingled, clung. I'd rinse the maple-syrup kisses from my slip-resistant soles. Remove my bobby pins, hairnet, stockings. Open the fridge and linger in the light, bottle poised.

I thought the keys to that life jingled: magic in my apron pocket. Ordinary quarters. So thin they could disappear behind an ear, beneath a cup. In a fist. They could flatten within the folds of a frayed kitchen towel. One day you saw them and voila: they were gone.

One night I'd had enough of your sleight of hand. I decided I'd spin, so to speak—to finally present the suggestion— But your crown was affixed to its cushioned depression and I refrained. Poured, icebox wide—drank deeply of the illusion I knew: joining you, forever wordless. In that tiny living room, I'd drift towards the dancing blue light.

Every night I hoped you'd change the channel. You'd only stretch and shrug, stake your hundred-proof claims. And still I wanted to love and hug those promises (if only in name), because you'd hide and squeeze so much trust inside the mirrored sleeves of good intentions.

Soon you slithered and seeped into the couch. You'd twist and wring beneath the hooves of sleep, dribble onto my rented oriental rug. I'd kick your shin, softly. But you were sawn in half, a gargled song. A human oar noosed by a handful of weed.

Now you've disappeared and I rise at dawn, cold. Empty ashtrays. Part curtains. Search through loose snapshots for stale shake and stray seeds. I clutch and flick past old, hypnotic pictures of the wide-eyed trickster I was before we met.

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