I Met the Devil Last Night

 

i met the devil last night

she wore my face

and had slinked on my body like a coat

she looked like myself,

though a few years younger

perhaps seventeen,

sixteen

one of those ages where you know

the right answers

to just about anything.

 

the devil lured me to my hometown

she sung sweet songs to me

and left them in my voicemail

a chorus of old friends backed her up

voices compounding into a beautiful chord

she reminded me of the joy,

the full, beating, pumping hearts

carnivals in the street,

and the sun’s warmth.

 

i arrived but weeks ago

the devil was near, i knew

but where, I was unsure

i roamed the neighborhood

finding that its colors had drained

i went to an old friend’s house

only to discover a graveyard

crammed with grey, speckled stone

the air was cold and quiet.

 

i drove the streets that i once traveled so much

that they are pressed into my brain

alongside all the other wrinkles

my wheels rolled over and over and over

over that asphalt

wearing the grooves in my mind deeper and deeper

until my brain folded in on itself

and moisture became trapped in the intersections

letting fungi and rot and mold grow there

pink became overrun by green, grey, brown, black

decay, decay, decay.

 

i sat in my childhood home

in my childhood room

in my childhood bed

for days on end

trying to find the devil again

i could hear her siren song

i pressed my nose, forehead, and lips to the cold glass

of my old room’s window

and watched slush gather on the street below.

 

last night the devil started to yell out

she cried for help

demanded my presence

told me how good she’d be for me

i followed the sounds outside

and into the garden

her words were muffled by the grass and dirt

i grabbed a shovel

and split the frozen earth open

digging and digging and digging

until i unearthed her.

 

she stood with a saccharine smile

there was still grave dirt between her teeth

she told me i missed her

she told me about all the good memories

she had, all the birthday parties

and classes with friends

and award-winning essays

what fun she used to have

when i was her

she held her arms out for me

and asked if we could be one

once more

i took a step closer

looking at that unmarred face

i sighed and, arms outstretched

pushed her back in the grave.

 

i piled the dirt back on

she cussed me out and screamed

but once the hole was filled once more

i heard not a word

it made my heart beat fast

perhaps i had lost her after all

maybe she was dead

i walked back inside

and slept at the kitchen table

tears prickling at the corner of my eyes.

 

when i woke up,

it was almost time to leave

my mother was at the sink,

plucking a plant from its pot

i asked what she was doing

she showed me the plant’s roots

they had grown in a circle

layering upon themselves again and again

until they could no longer suck up water

she had to repot it, she said

there wasn’t much else to do

it had grown all it could in its old pot

it was time for a new one.

 

i got in my car and drove

down highways i half-recognize

a new song started playing on the radio

but i didn’t care much for it

so i hit skip

an old favorite began to blare

i smiled, then hit skip again.

 

i met the devil last night

she wore my face

and had slinked on my body like a coat

she looked like myself,

though a few years younger

perhaps seventeen,

sixteen

one of those ages where you know

the right answers

to just about anything

but what i didn’t know

was that maybe this time

i had to be wrong.

 

This poem is about: 
Me

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