CWI October 2019 Winner

Sleight of Hand

Ruth Taaffe

You were thirteen and crooked, about to embrace

the retainer, conjure your own face from the pack.

An x-ray then you lay supine against stuffed leatherette

waiting for the show to begin. Behind the scenes 

the assistant prepared tricks of the trade for the maestro

who appeared in the snap of a glove, like that!

As though she’d pulled herself out of a hat.

One eye looked blind, beyond, as white as the tip 

of a magic wand but, god, that smile!

She began with the routine illusion – brush and floss, 

all smoke and mirrors, but two molars lay in her way.

Her wink revealed she had something up her sleeve:

the swan song of your baby teeth. She swiftly tugged  

then showed me her sleight of hand with a flourish, 

cupped in there like two bullets caught mid-flight.