books of magic – poetry – gaiman

Talking backwards
because time will not go backwards
because I will walk until I see an answer
graffiti written backwards on the wall invisible
because I am getting ahead…
watch my dust.
The fear is of the unknown.
We kill the things we do not understand.
Here:
talk backwards
animate a dream.
Here:
talk backwards
glamours mask the fear.
The need to get ahead, the burning need.
(Watch my dust, my daughter, watch my dust.)
I need more than illusion,
we do it with mirrors,
and rabbits
athanors
and doves…
When the magic appears, when the lights go up,
when I’m dressed in my top hat
and my coat of many pockets
when I’m talking backwards…
Then I knew that I was edging through the maze.
And once I had gone past delusion
past the others
all “the Great,” “the Amazing,” “the Master of Illusion,”
past all of them
once they had seen my dust,
I found
emptiness
the hollow place at the center of the maze
no returning
no way back
not even speaking backwards
not even walking backwards
I thought I had found my way to the center of the invisible labyrinth,
and I had – perhaps – discovered no more than the entrance.
Watch my dust.
I retreated into safety,
the world of illusion,
in the stage,
in the footlights,
all eyes upon me and no one really seeing,

because I do not talk backwards:
because I do not say:
(thgin emoceb seilfrettub)
and the night does not become butterflies.
I give nothing of myself to the audience,
as I do it with mirrors
and string
and sleight
the delusion of illusion and the hand
deceives the eye…
My life is strobed like lightning by a follow-spot,
and looking backwards I can only see
the corpses of the animals and birds
who strutted with me on the darkened stage
and helped me fool them all.
Charms of birds
and hatsful of dead rabbits.
I take my last bow with pride, as proudly as befits a conjure man
going down in flames,
up as smoke.
There is no walking backwards,
and I am lost in the labyrinth invisible.
I cannot retrace my steps.
I wrote my name on the wall of the invisible labyrinth.
I was so diligent in my studies;
gave my whole time and heart to the pursuit.
I wrote my name, but I can find it no longer;
my ashes blow like dust around the invisible labyrinth.

—————-
Listening to: Badly Drawn Boy – Once Around The Block
via FoxyTunes

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