Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Lady Trick

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Lady Trick

Article excerpt

The lady lets the audience watch,

full stare

they've paid a lot

to be voyeurs

while she sits

on the chair. Moves

just half-way in. Keeps

legs apart. Smiles

at them-especially the men.

Throws her chest out,

while being bound

arms in front, hands folded

like the good girl

in school who does what

she is told to do. Always

knows to carry a duplicate

length of rope

(and of self) concealed

next to her heart, watches

as that partition slides

away from their grins.

Should she find she can't

break free, loosen herself,

she cuts what binds-

cuts it quick

with a sharp penknife

kept on the inside

pocket of her thin blouse.

Holds it tight between

her teeth. Now

released, she appears

in front of the screen.

Know. Someday she will

not escape.

II

The lady lies in an iron cage.

Padlocks snapped shut on the door

at the top and the sides reinforce

that there's no way out.

No traps, no mirrors

used for this trick

although a mirror would be nice

for ladies like

to adjust their hair before

they vanish (haven't you

noticed this?). The screen

placed in front appears

for just ten seconds.

That's all it takes

to disappear (so far,

I've witnessed this

twice). Escape

is what the lady's after

it's in her power. Although

the audience only applauds

the conjurer, which isn't fair,

for the lady has pressed hard

through rubber bars at the back,

rolled herself onto a narrow leaf

table that drops her down to the floor. …

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