Excerpt from Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse, “The Magician’s Wife”

The Magician’s Wife

When I’m with you I am not myself:
you call me Bella
then all words are consumed
by our kissing.

It’s not that you don’t like to talk.
From beneath a dark-brimmed hat
you hide behind other men’s
philosophies, conjure
the mythologies of stars
on a cloudy night.

Your smile’s contagious
yet I only know the expressions
of your face by touch,
the fluid transformations
of your chameleon skin
each time I draw nearer than sight.

You take me in under
your hunter’s cloak and I
vanish, leave no trace of timed
existence except the memory
of white-gloved fingerprints.

I know better than to ask,
When are we going home?

Not in any room built of our bodies
have I found the arcane fire
you alluded to in dream.

When sky shuts its medusa-eyes
I watch you sleeping
as if the innocence of each
shallow breath could return
the wisdom I’ve sacrificed to be beautiful.


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