When I was little, I was a hoaxer. I'd pluck a hair or two from my scalp, attach it to
a pencil or tiny Lego brick, and then tie or tape the other end to my finger. Instant
levitation! I don't think I fooled anyone, except maybe my younger sister, and even she
figured it out after a few seconds. I made my own marked decks of Zener cards out of
navy blue construction paper; these actually wowed my fifth-grade classmates for about
Probability is a funny thing. When I quit hoaxing everyone and decided to investigate
this stuff for real, I practiced guessing the suits of playing cards. I'd pick twenty-five
at random and go through the pile, writing down what I thought was the suit of each. Then
I'd check my results. It seemed sometimes that I was eerily accurate, and other times that
I'd hardly gotten any right. There was one time when my brother was holding up cards for
me and I guessed thirteen suits in a row correctly. I was elated when this happened,
despite the fact that there was certainly nothing supernatural about it; I just got
I'm a mundane. Completely, utterly, totally non-magical. I don't see angels in the
clouds or Mother Teresa in a cinnamon bun. There are no invisible hands guiding me along
the proper path. There is no gentle voice urging me to make this or that decision.
I don't even get hunches, usually. And when I do they are generally wrong. My dreams tell
me nothing but what I already suspect about my character.
Have I made my point?
Patterns, patterns everywhere. Like that Amy Lowell poem that still chills me.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?
Clothing and restraint and the repetition of pacing, whether with anticipation or
distress. Conflict. Sunlight
through leaves. Blood, systems, circulation. Patterns define us and frustrate us and
tear us apart. Cause and effect. I will not dissect Ms. Lowell's poem but I will read
its ending verse over and over and soon it will stick in my head. Another pattern, more
neurons called out for duty so that they might know purpose. Words penned by the long-dead
can still evoke prickles in my skin, make my whole body feel pulled tight in some direction
outside known dimensions. THAT is what patterns are for.
I roll dice, I call out my guesses as to what the numbers are going to be. Sometimes
I'm right, and though I know it's just random chance, I'm always pleased when this happens.
For despite my earth-stuck, stodgy,
militant skepticism, I'm not immune to the draw of magic, or the suggestion of magic.
There's this crazy little kid inside me, her eyes always wide and amazed. She's so
magical she can barely stand it, and when something happens that clicks with her
faerie-glitter mindset, some of her excitement leaks out and into my veins. Silver delight,
songs from somewhere you'll never go.