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The Magician Speaks to the Fool

Someday, you will learn
that life is mapped by misadventures
and heartbreak,
unruly as the sea, arranged
and rearranged
in waves, until everything is salt
and sand.

Someday, someone you marked as safe
will call the witch
out of your bones,
and leave you full of burning,
your mouth tasting like ash,
the blessing of a last kiss,
a crossroads
you don’t come back from.

Someday, what’s broken
will be left in shatters, a glinting
reminder of missteps, a lighthouse
of warning, a milestone
of survival—leave it
where it lies
and remember.

Someday, you will bite the apple
and find a promise, a freedom,
the sweet sleep of love—
but sometimes, too, a poison,
a soft slow song
of ruin, a beautiful
reckoning of reason
and madness.

Someday, this bright moment
will howl a dark ache
into the silence, and you will learn
how to mourn
the living, inching through
each day, a collection
of gathered will
and grief.

Someday, this.
But for now?
Show no mercy to this life,
howl it holy
for the way it burns,
your body a sanctuary
for belief, a clumsy marvel—
there is a cliff,
fly or fall,
jump.

(Editors’ Note: “The Magician Speaks to the Fool” is read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 28B.)

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Ali Trotta

Ali Trotta is a poet, editor, dreamer, word-nerd, and unapologetic coffee addict. Her poetry has appeared in Uncanny, Fireside, Strange Horizons, Mermaids Monthly, and Cicada magazines, as well as in The Best of Uncanny  from Subterranean Press. She has a poem forthcoming in F&SF magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in Curtains, a flash fiction anthology. A geek to the core, she’s previously written TV show reviews for Blastoff Comics, as well as a few personal essays. Ali’s always scribbling on napkins, looking for magic in the world, and bursting into song. When she isn’t word-wrangling, she’s being a kitchen witch, hugging an animal, or pretending to be a mermaid. Follow her on Twitter as @alwayscoffee, read her blog at alwayscoffee.wordpress.com, or subscribe to her TinyLetter. Four of her poems, including three for Uncanny, were Rhysling Award nominees.

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