My Daughter Manages to Outdo Harry Houdini

Handcuffed, padlocked, sub-
merged or left to dangle—both
chrysalis and butterfly, his body
one taut muscle as he twisted
to shed, cast off, unfurl; an act
of enticement to tease the Grim
Reaper, excelling every time
until a betrayal, a rupture
snuffed him in Detroit

and my wisp of a third grader
—while the devil held the chains—
provoked bafflement then panic
inside the Park Street ER,
surgeon slicing to rescue her
from a straitjacket of pain,
then the fiery surprise:
a punctured appendix, spilt
toxins corralled by a torque
of the intestine, the dike it made
against the sweep of her blood-
stream, a feat her body mastered
the better part of a week so that

wide-eyed, pale, face bathed in
cold sweat, she stood upright
center stage, applause

—Shoshauna Shy