Bad Magic by Nancy Reddy

It starts out simple, with blindfolds
and sleights of hand. I’ll be the girl
you practice on, I’ll let you
pull a nest of ravens from my hair
then saw me open on your mother’s couch.
I’m very still.
             At the reservoir, when
you strip and handcuff me
for the underwater escape
I won’t squirm or make a sound.
                         But after a time I tire
of your illusions. I want
real tricks, the kind that hurt, or none at all.
             For your final act you stitch
the raven’s feathers to my skin, right through
my favorite sequined dress. You stroke the soft down
beneath the shoulder strap but when my hands
turn to talons you won’t let me touch you
in any of the ways you’ve taught. I bring back
carrion for your breakfast, I preen
and squawk and still you will not have me.
             Fool magician. I was such a good
girl. Now I’ll have your heart.
Before the curtain falls and I crest off
I’ll pluck it from your chest
like a rabbit from a hat.
Nancy Reddy’s work has appeared in Smartish Pace, Memorious, Best New Poets 2011, Best of the Net 2011, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is currently a doctoral candidate in composition and rhetoric.