in the evening of the magician

in the little square mid-performance 
he spots his ex-wife in the crowd 
         she is walking away, her head resting 
         on the shoulder of another man 
distracted at a crucial part of the act 
the magician cuts his assistant’s leg with a sword 
the ambulance is a real crowd pleaser 
later in the night the magician is performing solo 
a drunk man with a yellow smile spits on him 
         I know your tricks, says the rotten man. 
         earlier in the evening he’d watched a show 
         on TV called Magicians’ Secrets Revealed 
         he picks up the magician using his eyes. 
the magician is levitating 
stark white against the night 
a kite 
‘come down from there!’ 
calls his ex-wife, trying to be tolerant 
but he’s floating away 
the crowd exclaims, 
‘he was never a magician. 
he was just a plastic bag. 
quite the trick!’ 
no, he’ll not be coming down.

the shy child

I want to write about the ultimate shy child 
she’s so shy she can’t say her own name 
you don’t want to push her into the world 
to be bullied, learn swear words, change. 
so you don’t, you wait. she’s always always waiting. 
and so quietly, sometimes you leave her behind 
leave her at the movies, the supermarket, 
and when you go back, she’s just been waiting. 
when she sees you she holds out her arms, hello. 
her face forgiving, kind of resigned. 
she likes puzzles with pictures of baby animals 
complex equations that end in odd numbers 
reading the paper. she sighs over the state of the world, 
sips her coffee, black. she wants to kiss someone 
ride a Ferris wheel. witness Aurora Borealis. 
she’s getting tired of me, failing to live BIG. 
maybe she’s just tired. 
I wanted to write a poem about the shy child. 
to leave her with all her potential. 
I want to write about when I was ten. my mother 
told me about my sister that died. still, very small, inside. 
she said: I’m not sad, you’re big enough for two people. 
that heavy thought. I was born at 11:58 p.m. 
so we would’ve been twins, but if she’d arrived second 
I expect we’d have different birthdays. 
I would like two birthdays. 
I want to write about my brother. 
the one with the pale hair and dimples. 
he says if he could have a superpower, 
he’d want the ability to find things that he’s lost. 
some of these things might be: our orange kitten, 
his t-shirt with the fake shark bite out of it 
and his Crazy Legs G.I. Joe. 
I know where Crazy Legs is. I buried him 
when I spun his legs too far and they fell off. 
I didn’t tell my brother. 
I hate to make his good face sad. 
one day I might tell him, 
probably not about the G.I. Joe but that it’s OK, 
sometimes, to let things go. 


Abby Stewart was a member of the MA Creative Writing class in 2006, where she worked on a collection of poetry, The Ultimate Shy Child. She moved to Wellington at the beginning of the year, for the class and the bright city lights. She stayed because she fell in love with Wellington. When she grows up she is going to be a gumshoe.