on the page magazine

issue no. 2, spring 2001


The Skin Magician Confesses

by Susan Chambers

I want to be more like my brother,
how he loses himself to trance.
As a child, in the playroom,
I hypnotized him with a bowstring
then ordered him to taste
one breast. I forced him to wear
my Communion dress. I told him,
as I was told, that he would not remember.

Now, he records the heartbeats
of dancers and composes a ballet score
from the sound. I try
to lose myself in the body's riffs.
But my thighs are retarded twins
I can't untwine. I pick apart
each rib. For my birthday
my lover paints a G-string
floating on glass
in some weightless desire.
My mouth hums as it takes him.
See, it has nothing to do
with pleasure; I just
can't not pretend.

Susan Chambers is a poet living in San Francisco. She has an MA in English and Creative Writing from UC Davis. Her work has been published in The Greensboro Review and The New York Quarterly. She was recently a finalist in Glimmer Train's Poetry Open contest.

poet's note
This poem is from my collection-in-progress, The Skin Magician. I was inspired by a ballet performance piece my brother created called heartbeats. The poem began as a study of the ballet's incestuous mechanics, but quickly turned into an examination of how the body's memory, when left unchecked, can be poison everything.

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