Annette Sisson


Somewhere I read that abracadabra means 
to manifest a wish, create a new 

reality through spoken words. It sounds 
so simple—an incantation and there it is: 

a rabbit sniffs a carrot on the kitchen 
counter, a tiresome colleague brays—

mane and big teeth, tail
swaying side to side, clopping out 

of the building. Charming. As I dried my hands 
this morning, a thought arrived, unbidden: 

I’ll call her today. It welled up naturally, 
water from a faucet but scorching hot. 

I’d kept that thought packed away 
in the cedar chest, let it out 

to breathe only on holidays. Today 
it slipped from the trunk like the woman 

the magician padlocks inside. She emerges 
from under the tablecloth where he conjures 

roses and trick cards. So
here’s the deal: I talk to you 

every day while I putter through 
my week—it eases the itch to pick up 

the phone. But sometimes I drop my end
of the conversation, forget to clue you in, 

figure you won’t notice. Then
the chest spills open and I startle, 

crave our rambling chats—topic
to topic, though we stopped covering 

everything decades ago. Still, 
we talked. Until you could no longer 

hold the receiver, rally your tongue 
to form a phrase. For five years 

I’ve hung on to this monologue, listened 
for that lilt in your voice. But you never 

chuckle or snort at my puns, wonder 
when I’ll be home to visit. The rhythm

of the old spell sputters. And you,
the magician’s assistant, materialize 

like an Ace of Hearts, mouth words
into air, vanish as I look away.

Annette Sisson, from Nashville, TN, has published poems in Birmingham Poetry Review, Rust and Moth, The Citron Review, The Lascaux Review, TypishlyOne, and other journalsHer book Small Fish in High Branches was published by Glass Lyre Press in May 2022. She was a Mark Strand Scholar for the 2021 Sewanee Writers’ Conference and 2020 BOAAT Writing Fellow. Her poems have received nominations for “Best of the Net” and won The Porch Writers’ Collective’s 2019 poetry prize. She was shortlisted for the 2021 Fish Poetry Prize and the 2022 Lascaux Prize, longlisted for the 2021 Frontier New Voices contest.