I. The Magician

Born Ventriloquist
by Rikki Santer | May 2, 2020

Caesarean section, like red
velvet curtains, pulled open
for applause. Your wet lungs
drawn off like determined
marionettes, nurses swathed
you in tuxedo cummerbund.

They told your parents you had
to crawl before you could tap dance,
coo & gurgle before consonants
emerged, but you announced your entry
with your egg tooth tossing punchlines
across a gleaming labour room.

That garden smile of yours
& its ghost of mustache
had the doctors yukking it up
as your vocal chords
pranced, spinning setups
from ceiling to floor.

Your new breath was cheese corn;
your hands, fledgling beaks.
They say you were taught in utero
by vaudeville angels, so your
bassinet stayed mic’d, milked
for a marvelling proscenium.

Rikki Santer (she/her)’s poetry has appeared in numerous publications both nationally and abroad, including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie, The Journal of American Poetry, Hotel Amerika, Crab Orchard Review, Grimm, Slipstream, and The Main Street Rag. Her work has received many honours, including five Pushcart and three Ohioana book award nominations, as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her seventh collection, In Pearl Broth, was published in Spring 2019 by Stubborn Mule Press. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.