My father was always the magician, / not I. One swift pull and / the silk streamers would spill / from his mouth, flooding the floor.
i have slowly been consuming
the last traces of my mother
i hold the gurgling maw
of the vacuum as it swallows
tawny strands of hair &
dust on hardwood floor
today i read that household
dust is mostly skin
as if to say outside dust
is stranger or more spectacular
as if to say i am watching
this monster tear into
my mother again & again
& calling it “being productive”
my teeth wearing themselves
down on leftovers: rice & soup & barley
picturing my mother stooped
over the stove bloodletting
when she was here
i couldn’t wait for her to go
now i sit alone in the freezer
& eat everything
oh i eat it all
The Magician’s Daughter
My father was always the magician,
not I. One swift pull and
the silk streamers would spill
from his mouth, flooding the floor.
The chains always broke. The cage always
vanished. The canary always returned,
chirping, from the dead.
At nineteen the magic came calling.
At the paintball park I swallowed a bullet
and spat it out whole. During dinner
the knife fell through my palm,
tumbling into the curry.
Mama soaked the drops up with a dishrag
until it squeaked.
The fifth time after I made my
cabinet escape, Mama turned it into
plywood. Said, this country is no place
for magic. Tricks do not fill empty bowls
with rice, only rabbits. Said, you are not
Houdini. You will not come back
But the pennies keep turning up
under my tongue. Everything I eat
tastes like rust. My skin won’t stop
humming. All my rings have turned
into links. Gingerly, I pluck the coins out
and coax them into tiny molten suns.
They flood the floor with light.