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Louise Peterkin: a poem

The Hole Trick

There seems to be a surplus

of those which look like lupus

Incantation evoked by William (Billy) Bravado during the Rampaging Rabbit Trick. Palladium, 1895

With a tap of the wand, the top hat flattened

to a black hole. The rabbits would happen.

Gasps; applause from the audience

when Bravado rummaged under the table

to show there was no depression

from which they could emerge.

The rabbits stepped out, daintily at first,

like ladies, but soon the house would prickle

at their soft multiplication.

A steady fount – they were jostling, pairing off,

tumbling down

like parts of a malfunctioning device,

spreading across the stage like industry. While Kirk postured panic,

bringing out a broom from the wings as if to sweep them up,

Bravado stalked around, appraising the anarchy,

his hands behind his back, head cocked, grin: unhinged. He was stooped,

his prominent chin, the curiously upturned point

of his shoe converging, giving him the appearance

of a traversing C; Rumpelstiltskin. By this time, folks were subdued:

the stress of excess, the muchness, the fur – reiterated

into something broaching profanity. But the Brothers reined

it in: a twist to the trick pulled it back from the brink

and gave it an edge of dissoluteness: it was one

for the ages. The hole

from which the rabbits were birthed

could be relocated,

rucked at the edges like velvet then carried like a tray

to a spot on the stage, where it was smoothed down

like a rug by Kirk. The rabbits halted

in their gambolling

hopped towards it

then dropped




into the nothing.

Then: a nudge with his foot

to widen the gap to a sufficient

breadth and length

and with a showy valediction

Bravado jumped in.

Followed by Kirk.

The crowd went berserk.

Louise Peterkin is a poet from Edinburgh. In 2016 she was a recipient of a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust in the poetry category. She is the co-editor, along with Rob A. Mackenzie, of Spark: Poetry and Art inspired by the Novels of Muriel Spark (Blue Diode Press, 2018). She is an assistant poetry editor for The Interpreter's House. Her poems have appeared in many publications, including The Dark Horse, One Hand Clapping, The Glasgow Review of Books, Magma and The North, and her first collection of poetry, The Night Jar, is out now, published by Salt.


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