Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sleight of Hand

Be careful!

April fools!

Pay heed!


I'll give you a hint:
the trickster likes attention.
Sometimes he pretends to love you
and tells you stories
as full as the sky.

Dance with him,
he might laugh
or maybe hold you as if
there were just one slow tune.
The future is his guess.

And the past
he trims like a bush,
plants it at your front door
and keeps it green--
the season doesn't matter.

It's not magic--
sleight of hand is all.
Recognize him, that's the trick.
But pay heed:
he looks strangely like you.

by Jan Donley (b. 1956)
American novelist, playwright, poet, teacher

My friend Jan (see earlier post) wrote this poem and gave me a copy in 1982, when we were in grad school together. All these years I have kept it one of my special notebooks and often thought of it. When I asked her about putting it on my blog for April Fools Day, she said, "Oh! Right. Trickster. I wonder when I wrote that. I love crows--how they are often depicted as tricksters. I miss this kind of writing--short, compact, full of image. I wonder now, reading it, if the ending is too much--too overstated. But I like the first three stanzas. Hmmm."

My favorite image: the past, planted at your front door.

Look for Jan's novel, The Side Door, forthcoming from Spinsters Ink Pubishers in 2010.

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