A Charlier Cut is the first of many moves you will learn on your journey. - - From Magic Tricks and Illusions
I was thirteen with waist-length hair
ensnarled in a nest of knots
I didn't have the energy to solve.
I was thirteen with uncut fingernails
that would bleed when I broke
them to the quick, with a period
I thought was cancer, with night terrors
and panic attacks, and a maroon down coat
I wore every day to class to make
my chest disappear for the hecklers
who threatened to destroy my show
before it developed. While watching
a David Copperfield special on TV,
I wanted to vanish and exchange myself
for a sequined woman who knew all the secrets.
I began learning sleight of hand tricks:
How to keep the segments together,
to grow accustomed to the clearances,
to stop dropping my cards
until the illusion was seamless.
I learned to hold my cards
in one hand, shuffle, and cut the deck
with a flourish. It’s funny how easy
a brain accepts a magic act as truth.
At thirteen, I am too afraid to ask
my history teacher, Mr. Hogan to go
to the bathroom, so I let urine soak through
my corduroy jeans and on to my seat---
And I am still sitting in the classroom
with a dark wet stain---
unable to escape---trying to figure out
how to make an audience disappear.
Victoria Nordlund is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. Her chapbook Binge Watching Winter on Mute will be published in Spring 2019 by Main Street Rag. She is a 2018 Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize Nominee, whose work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Gone Lawn, Maudlin House, Ghost Proposal, and other journals. You can read more of her work at https://www.victorianordlund.com/poetry