Poem: Secret Magicians

Secret Magicians

It is deceptive magic.
Push. Pull. Push again.
Pull and whole cloth emerges,
a lovely demonstration for the tourists.

But you are the type to linger. To watch
from beginning to end:
The tie of each long thread, the stretching,
lining up one with the other,
preparing the shuttle, all the work
that comes before the magic.
Work and precision. Time unnoticed.

You have ceased to be a tourist in your own life.
Nothing runs on autopilot any longer,
you have traded that magic for the work, content
with the things unseen, content to watch more deeply
not for the show, but the patterns that develop
with each run of the shuttle, content
to know more than see, understand more than listen.

It is a different way of working, the old ways.
Slower. More work. Less glamourous.
People prefer their magic in the moment.
That is, after all, what makes it magic.
To the tourists, at least.
Oooooh and Ahhhhh and move on
to the next side show.

You are the one who stays,
at times too long. Trusting the work,
yours and those around you,
that small circle of secret magicians.

About this poem

I am the guy at historical museums who lingers too long. Who likes to sit through the demonstrations multiple times. I like to see the preparation and the aftermath. I like to ask questions. For some of the artisans I am a delight, someone who is truly interested in the craft. For others I am a pest. For better or worse, it’s a trait I passed down to my daughter.

The older I get, the less I care about image, mine or others’. I have become a watcher. A listener. A seeker of patterns. It is slow work, but I prefer it. Understanding precludes judgement. You live in a place of less expectation and thus, less frustration or anger. Life just is. There’s a contentment in that that I did not have as a younger man.

I have forgotten where I took this picture. It was either in Colonial Williamsburg, Va, or the Hancock Shaker Village in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. But I am sure I pestered someone.


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