( part of the piece )
Throughout Weights, but perhaps most explicitly in the poem, “Magic Wand”, Manning uses juxtaposition to illustrate how, as a blind and black man, he is “caught in a network of contradictory gazes” (Sandahl, 2004, p595) which fail to apprehend the whole of his identity. Moving back and forth between images of the basketball star, sociopathic gang-banger, and pimp to images of the saintly soul, pitiful child, burden, and gimp, Manning underscores how he is constructed by others either as a black man or a blind man, but never as both. He writes:
Quick-change artist extraordinaire,
I whip out my folded cane
And change from black man to blind man
With a flick of my wrist.
In the remainder of the poem, Manning explores in more detail the ways in which, as a black man he is reviled, while as a blind man he is patronized and pitied. Yet, whether shaped by hared, fear, or pity, both of these constructions fix his identity. Manning reminds us, however, that although he “wield[s] the wand”, each perception is simply a magic trick, an illusion that never fully apprehends him. Moreover, this construction is not of his own making, but of ours. The poem ends:
My final form is never of my choosing;
I only wield the wand;
You are the magician.
---end of transcription---
( beatrice's mystery solved )