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David Dixon

Sleight of Hand

Six, maybe seven, small deer;

careful, silent, almost a reverence

rising from the sandy bank of the stream.

They cross the trail before me, then disappear

into thinning November woods. I search 

the emptiness into which they are gone 

for any hint of where they might be, 

and wonder why so much of how I seek 

is standing by silent water 

waiting for wreckage to wash ashore, 

so much of what I keep 

is loose change memory carried deep

in denim pockets. 

I grow tired of this trickery, 

this game of picking a card, any card 

just to see it shuffled, vanished, 

lost again. 

So I keep down my head, prayer-like, 

eyes to the ground, 

attention to my own returning

and finding ways back;

lost from the moment, 

from any notion of newness;

this innocence lifted before me.


I carry you into dark rising tide

     (Why must it always be night?)

with the purpose, the given intent

to bear you into stillness.

     I feel your weight in my aging arms

and remember our bodies, long ago,

though this is not that dream.

     Then I’m awakened by Jesus

and his words we will be given no more,

me and you, each of us,

     past the waves now, in water

calm, unstirring, closing quietly 

over our heads.

David Dixon is a physician, poet, and musician who lives and practices in the foothills of North Carolina. His poetry has appeared in Rock & Sling, The Northern Virginia Review, Connecticut River Review, Flying South, Sand Hills Literary Review, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry "The Scattering of Saints" is forthcoming.

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