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Nickie DeSardo

Houdini’s Secret

I left a seamount behind in order to break free from you. Houdini wrapped in chains sunk to the ocean floor. A million locks to open. Marginally escaping. Escaping. Escaping like me. Houdini learned to hold his breath past humanity. I learned to hold my breath. I held my breath for years, anchored to the ocean’s floor. The world swirling above me, angry muffled sounds. I walked along that ocean floor submerged by the pressure of your rage. Overpowering my natural buoyancy. Wrestling against rising to the top. Back then, only small air bubbles escaped. Free to the surface. Distress signals. But you were not thorough enough. You forgot to drown me. A moment lapse. You looked away; you must have thought that I had walked that ocean floor for so long that I was too saturated. You must have thought I could no longer float. Maybe I thought that too. Maybe I had forgotten. A sip of air. Transformed me it did. Color back in my cheeks. Houdini’s apprentice. He breathed life into me. At the bottom of the ocean. We could not speak, no muffled sounds, just the knowing of language that comes from the eyes. It spoke of all the times that I danced above the surface, I was reminded of song, of trees, of sky. The light reached me. Through a thousand leagues. And I fought to rise to the top with that one breath. Even while chained. I managed to ascend. You’ll never know it was him who saved me. Houdini’s secret.


Nickie DeSardo is pursuing an MFA in Writing from Western Connecticut State University and is currently working on a poetry collection. Her poetry is often confessional, but ranges from existential to political. She is a former teacher turned social justice advocate who directs and supports nonprofit and community organization. Nickie is originally from and currently resides in Connecticut with her two children.

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