Mirrors are Practically Useless to Me

we crack our knuckles back to the bone, bend our wrists forward and backward and place our palms down on tables, we twist them clockwise to read the time, we know all of the names of all the bones in our hands, they are precious ad important and each one plays a role, we can slip our hands free from handcuffs and spread decks of cards out like fans, we know how to feel the number in a deck and count them up

taste the words on the tip of your tongue, swirl them in your mouth, spit them out or swallow them back, incantations taste like cake, like scones dripping with butter and honey fresh from the oven, and the honey gets on your fingers, lick it off and the sweet sticky taste will remind you of telling stories as you lay the cards out, the king and the queen go into the forest and bandits appear and the queen is safe in the castle, but can we make her reappear

stretch out your body on the floor, arch your back, plant your soles on the ground firmly, try to raise yourself, try to raise yourself is what hansel and gretel’s mother told them when she pushed them out the door, and the stones clinked in his pockets like they were keeping musical time, he laid them out and sure birds ate the crumbs, but why did nothing eat those stones, shining like light under the moon, and were there no ghosts who would take the pebbles and swallow them one by one in hopes of getting that light back

and count off to your favorite number, show the card to the audience, tell them to memorize it, have someone, a stranger, take the card and rip it into pieces or drown it in water or devour it covered in chocolate syrup, dunked in red wine, and watch them savor it, then shuffle, shuffle, cut, false cut, reshuffle, have someone else take the deck from you, have them flip the top card and it is always the card returned, so expected as to be unexpected, no one thinks the tricks will fail anymore

what do you do when you never slip, when every trick works, and you dream at night of piercing bodies with swords, of escaping knots underwater, of palming coins until the end of your life, what do you do when even in your dreams the girl is never left in two, the knots always tug loose, the coins never fall with a clatter to the floor, what do you do when there is no trick left

place your hands on the floor, stretch out the muscles of your body, speak lies to fill your patter, taste the words, they taste like grass, like cinnamon dusted snow

we all wait with breath held, with eyes unblinking, and we disappear slowly, tying the ropes around our wrists, dipping backwards into the water, pretending we know the answer to the riddle, the answer is smoke and

*Title is a (probably misremembered) quote from magician Nevil Maskelyne

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