Sara Blake
The Ventriloquist
Poem

On 13th Street she becomes wise
with drink and fashions
new dummies
from the same fleshy scraps
as before.
“There is no future
in ventriloquism,”
she thought, her eyes
pointed down to her right hand
at all the scars from
too much puppeteering.

She finds her marionettes
over the smell of whiskey
against chipped and yellowed plaster
walls moving with wide shapes
painted by tea candles,
their wicks burnt down low
to their silver plates.
All the wax has turned liquid.
The show is ready.

Her performance requires all five
senses of her audience,
her hands gesticulating
fluently to her own diction,
kneading the air and
testing her own collarbone
with the pads of her fingers
as she searches for a word.

Her scented lip gloss
make the air around her head
feel pink and edible.
Her voice is falsetto,
sometimes almost too
soft to even hear
like a small music box
without adequate surface
to vibrate and mature
to its full volume.

The vacuousness of her words
is only a trap—
their very emptiness
a ditch you stumble
into without even noticing
but then cannot escape.

She watches a wild
vine unfurl in the dark that
traces the path of the words
she’ll make you say next
without making you at all.