Ms. Bonner turns slowly, away from us,
her eyes close, her blonde becomes a curtain.
We lean forward from the floor,
legs criss-crossed and wonder-eyed.
She raps three times, deliberately
on the worn wood-backed rolling chair.
Her audience is more and more still, quieter
with each thump; we can hear the breath
of whoever is next to us, the comforting
rustle of her long skirt as she turns back
around. We know she will be transformed.
There is magic in her chair, in her hand
that knocks a new personality into her body.
One day she is an old woman, with voice
folded over at the edges, with slow hands,
her invisible cane in arthritic fingers.
Her glistening eyes get wider and wiser.
Another day she is seven, just like us, bright-
cheeked and boisterous, jumping breathless
into the classroom air, clapping.
Later, she will be a long-legged pirate, pursuing
all the treasures of the world, enraptured,
clutching some hand-drawn, weather-edged map.
We won’t ask where she got it, why she
travels, in these ten minutes a day, how her body
becomes so many, arriving like rainbows or more recess.
She must still be there with us, while we make our
coffees, assemble lunches, wonder what happened?
Today I sit at the dining table, my hand curled
into itself. I find the wood three times. Worry flies from
my fingers. The old woman winks, the seven-year-old
giggles, the pirate raises his sword into the sparkling sun.
Alexandra Umlas lives in Huntington Beach, CA with her husband and two daughters (ages 7 and 9) and is currently an MFA student in the Poetry program at California State University, Long Beach.