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