Self-Portrait as Magician
By Jeannine Hall-Gailey
No wands or hat tricks here, just real conjuring
with a thumping pop soundtrack and dire consequences.
I can transform, I can bend time and space to my whim.
I can befriend unicorns and talking cats.
I can enchant the amulet to kill your enemy
or create a potion to heal him.
No one whispers the word “witch” and when the wind
blows through my hair, my bejeweled nails might lead you
to believe the stereotypes, remember this:
my special power is fire, a curtain of pageant
through which I will watch you burn.
My story is a lot like yours – full of weakness,
despair, even boredom, because lighting things up
can only be exciting so many times.
The romance, the tragedies you might imagine
are zipped up and carried around in my head,
away from my troubled fingers, worrying the beads
and spells until they crumble.
In the end, I won’t be able to save anyone in the story –
not you, not myself, not the love interest waiting precarious
in the wings. And if magic can’t save us, what can?
I will search through books and lockets and wardrobes
for the answer we are all looking for: safety, immortality,
recreation, the power of the Gods, those untrustworthy monsters.
Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. Her work appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.