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Annie the Bard, Ann Bardens-McClellan

Illusion Master

I.

Come on, come on, little lady,
Try your luck with the little red ball.
Three throws for a dollar.
Win the purple panda
with beautiful
pink eyes.

Come on, come on
He's so soft.
Touch him touch him
He won't bite.
Touch him, touch him
He won't hurt you.
Tell him anything you want to
Pandas don't talk back.


II.

Welcome to my house of mirrors.
Step on my ramp, glide through my glittering palace.
Let me show you who you really are.

My first mirror ripples like ribbons
    bunched for a bridal bouquet.
Look and see how beautiful you are,
    hair raining pearls,
    immaculate dress enfolding
    new-born breasts pale as morning
    light falling on your pillow.

My second mirror bellies out,
    a fat glass Falstaff,
Look and see how fruitful you are.
    seed held high under your heart,
    skin singing a lullaby
    swollen womb a resurrection.

My third mirror spins a globe in space,
    a head without a body.
Look and see how wise you are.
Streams of thought cut chasms in your face,
Balm of your voice annoints
    kneeling supplicants.
Your fervent lips,
    touching each bowed head,
    thrill passion and power.

My fourth mirror, a ghostly prism, flickers
    a tallow face, a skeleton body.
Look and see how haunting you are.
Milky eyes peer into shadows, glimpsing only mist.
Behind you lies the wreck of years,
    junkyard in a whirlwind,
    a rag doll body stripped of stuffing,
    button eyes torn loose and dangling.
Can't you see?
Can't you see?
Eyes have lost their vision.
Breath clouds up my mirror.
Move back, old crone, so someone else can
    look and see who they really are.
Step off the ramp—careful now—
    your turn is over.

. . . come on, come on, little girl
three throws for a dollar. . .

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©2017 Ann Bardens-McClellan