Two Poems

Marjorie Manwaring


Other moms plopped their children in a play pen or in front of the TV for at least a little while each day, but hers wouldn't have it. Highly curious, the doctor said. Needs lots of mental stimulation. Well, what was she, a woman of average intelligence, of limited imagination, to do? Few toys enchanted him, and besides, his playthings were always vanishing. The magician's mother grieved over his first words—open sesame—and on the day he turned two, he made his cherry-wood rocking horse disappear right in front of her. Startled, sad to lose the treasured heirloom—she realized then he was not going to grow out of his eccentricities. Days passed, and like all moms, she'd gaze at her son sleeping peacefully in his crib, sun through the curtained window enhancing the talcum scent she knew would soon be memory. One exhausted afternoon, as she marveled at this child who was so incredibly demanding, he jumped up to touch her face with a thread-bare rattle toy he held like a magic wand. Mommy—he'd leaned in close—What's this?—and laughed as his chubby fingers pulled a glistening nickel out of her ear.


He was really into sexual pyrotechnics. You didn't hear me complaining—who wouldn't jump at the chance to try every position in broad daylight, both of you completely invisible? Who wouldn't be willing to do a little extra strengthening and toning so they could act out their "doing-it-while-suspended-in-mid-air" fantasy? Sure, he had a couple of odd habits like keeping the top hat on and chanting abra . . . cadabra . . . in an ear-piercing falsetto before the dam broke, but no deal-breakers. Thing is, I started to love him. And he was clear from the very start about that. With him, even a break-up was show-biz—the night we said good-bye he wanted to try it in the Houdini tank, but I knew my limitations. Later I unwrapped the box he'd sent home with me: a dozen paper roses that, when I held them, turned into white doves and flew away.

"The Magician's Lover" previously published in Four Corners.

Marjorie Manwaring

Marjorie Manwaring lives in Seattle, where she does freelance editing and is an associate editor for the DMQ Review. Her work has appeared in the Seattle Review, 5 AM, Sentence, periphery: a magical realist zine, and other journals. She was a semifinalist in the 2005 "Discovery"/The Nation contest.