Sarah Wolbach

After Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Conjurer”

Take your place
in the indolent queue,
take a number. Kill
an hour. Side-eyed, wink
and goad your neighbor
as the dour one
belches frogs
from his bewildered throat.

This is the gift of the conjurer:
whatever you hope for
he promises to bestow. Might be
a pile of frogs, or a blessing,
if you can see straight.

His owl appraises each transaction
with a sentry’s flat eyes,
invisible ears.
It’s a tight fit
in the owl’s willow basket,
filled with scraps
of parity, remainders
of candor. Scrum.

The conjurer is a gallant,
generous fellow who dazzles
with his flair for mendacity.
Marvel at his dexterity,

his legerdemain, follow
his gestures when he speaks.
You’re next in line.