Sawing the Woman in Half

by Janice D. Soderling

When the song is played one too many times,
when you recognize the sleight of hand,
spot the trapdoor before it opens,
know where the scarves are stashed,
and where the G-spot dutifully lies,
it's too late.
There was that alfresco restaurant near Rome.
The colored lanterns in the olive trees were red and green.
The old Tiber glinted in the distance.
Everything was ancient, even the waiter.
It was not day. It was not dusk. Maybe it was boredom.
An Englishman at the next table
threw spaghetti in the waiter's face,
screaming like a drag queen, al dente, you fool,
and you murmured to me in a low voice,
Your foie gras is cooked.
I don't need you anymore.

And I said, Give me your top hat
and I'll pull up some rabbits for you.
Sex is always a solution.
But when I dipped my hand into the chapeau claque,
it was full of water. Only some languid goldfish
moved inside, swimming for the exit.
I warned you, you said, the magic is gone.
Abracadabra, I replied, but your chair was empty,
your detached hands juggled the gritty air.
Now how did you do that?
The waiter came back to the Englishman's table
with a new plate of pasta. His face was deadpan,
so maybe the flying spaghetti was an illusion.
But the woman was real.
And the saw.