The Best Way I Can Explain It

Ana C. H. Silva

The Best Way I Can Explain It

is that there are no more magic shows. I watched them as a kid, sometimes all night, into the morning. The scratchy carpet, the rabbit-eared TV. The birds appearing in fists, just closed around a coin. I’d watch them without wanting to, clicking past 70s sex-capades, tall-hatted sepia cowboys with their billowing freight trains. I saw the ladies sawn in half, their sparkling dresses whole again. The green umbrella appears where nothing was. The endless, endless satin handkerchiefs, tied into a rainbow and another and another sailing through the air. The top hat and the black and white wand. But the woman will one day be unable to carry on the act, will tear off the sequins that scratch her skin, enlist the help of a stained-card, cut-rate divorce lawyer, set up shop as a hairdresser in the next town. When the fire’s moving, it can sound like a freight train. She raises her kids on her own, lets them see their deadbeat dad only when she wants to go out at night. She’ll wonder what the hell she was doing all those years in that man’s pasteboard boxes that smelled like dust and glue. The sound of a moving fire is like a freight train. A tsunami can sound like a freight train. One day it will hit her. She will cry out and scream. Her own rage rattling her chest will startle her. The cries that come out of her belly and bring her to her knees for a moment will scare and energize her. Many witnesses have said a tsunami sounds like a freight train. She will find her voice, beyond all reason, beyond all thought, the loudest thing ever heard, breaking glass TVs in everyone’s living room as she hustles her children into the night, into the next town and the next and the next, searching for something more than this.


Ana C. H. Silva lives in East Harlem, NYC and West Shokan, NY. Her poems are in Podium, Rogue Agent, The Mom Egg Review, the nth position, Snow Monkey, Chronogram, StepAway Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Between the Lines, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Shantih Journal. Ana created “Olive Couplets,” an Olive, NY community-based poetry work, and “Lines in the Woods,” an outdoor, interactive poetry installation at the CHHS in Rosendale, NY. Ana curates the MER online Gallery. She won the inaugural Rachel Wetzsteon Memorial Poetry Prize at the 92nd St. Y Unterberg Poetry Center. Her 2019 poetry chapbook, One Cupped Hand Above the Other, is with Dancing Girl Press.

Editor’s Notes:  As is the case for many of the earlier poems, there seems to be a quest for new worlds, old worlds, the meaning of life, survival etc. This prose poem (in the Robert Bly sense of the words) is no exception. It is literary and speculative at the same time. The magic show symbolism is caught by a bunch of stage lights (by Fuzzy Gerdes on Flickr) and a magician’s hat and wand.

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