Magic by Stephen Scott Whitaker

Once, I turned into my mother’s sundress, yellow
and dashed with red and white daisies, a trim midi
shape that supported the sky, bristled and oafish
with clouds and rain. My mother did not wear the dress,
but it was hers, this I knew, her dress, me, and the woman
who wore me, the dress, sung bits of song to merlins
gathered on a fist of seawashed elm, grey and hard
as stone. The world to me, as a thin skein cupping flesh
in love with its own happiness, singing to birds
who hawked and fished, and sewed up the air
with looping hooks. I could barely hang on, terrified
of spinning off the only warm thing in the world
which gave me sight. Honeysuckle blew in
with the storm. Was there an echo? I don’t know
the source of the returning, already what I knew
as thinking had begun to fall in sheets. The swinging pull
of the woman’s body as she threw it among the others
of her kind, whom I could not see but knew were there.
Soon, all that was left was feeling. Almost falling away.
Teetering on the wind. I knew nothing. The air carried
low tide back to the village. The ocean called. Soon, it said, soon.


Stephen Scott Whitaker is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the co-editor of The Broadkill Review. Whitaker’s poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Oxford Poetry, Crab Creek Review, The Shore, The Rumpus, Great River Review, and others. Mulch, a novel of weird fiction, is forthcoming from Montag Press.