Untitled by Lili Fishman

i keep dating painters slash magicians. once, a tinder
date painted a necklace of violets around my throat,
a chain of unique design. i touched a petal and watched it fade
and then return. i suppose the ink hadn’t dried yet.
my upper lip a navy blue, blooming somberly. i wondered what method
or brush he had used. i had never seen it before. but it was one of those
semi-permanent tricks, a ruse you rework again and again in your mind
after the magician has left town. lying down, palms up in front of him.
i should have known he would spill paint, splatter the drops pollock-style,
wet pearls that smeared all over my skin and legs and sheets and
my front was a violent patchwork of crimson, dripping down
my stomach, and i did not know if i loved it or hated it.
another painter slash magician i dated for a long while. she was different.
she had been a magician’s assistant, once. he sawed her in half at every
and soon there was not much of her left. he sewed her back up with
rusted wire,
murmurs of thanks, and she could only nod. somehow, she left his show
in one piece.
we covered each other’s bodies in landscapes of stars and deep woods
we were happy and we flung full cans of paint at each other’s heads
when we fought.
our last fight she chucked playing cards at my chest with such precision
and velocity it drew blood, the red seeping like a pen pushed too hard
on a page.
my houdini i remember the most had never performed before for
someone like me.
she was used to crowds of men watching her, eyes anywhere but her face,
so when i looked into her eyes i could tell she was nervous. she was a
bit sloppy,
fumbling with the scarves up her sleeves and the dove in her pocket, but
i was entranced all the same. when the dove finally appeared in her
cooing and alive, i applauded her, and she kissed me in thanks. she left
in the morning quietly, and i haven’t seen her since. i guess she was here
for one night only. a once in a lifetime ticket for her and for me. i may not
be a painter or magician but i can still appreciate their work, even if it is
fleeting, merely a trick of the light, a sleight of hand, a puff of smoke.

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