don’t paint the devil on the wall

my mother always told me but I did it on an impulse
just to see what would happen

the devil took it as a welcome banner—she entered at will
lurked under my stairs, raided my fridge without asking

spilled tea leaves on the wrong side of my bed
left the water running after taking a shower

and ran off with him and his well-worn
fuzzy slippers

I sought out a witch woman in a cottage in the woods
who made me a pulse of grit and revenge and thinned it

with piss and vinegar and spit
she said I could drink it but she wouldn’t force me

no one could tell me what to do
but if I swallowed, it would be on my head and my hands

or not at all
after weighing my heart on her kitchen scale

I choked it down
just to see what would happen

I returned through the woods on my own
slashing a new path to the house where we once lived

crept inside
hobbled the extra chair with a saw

broke the third plate
short sheeted the bed

whitewashed the friendly cat on the fence post
unscrewed the porch light

slicked the front steps with canola oil
and exited through the back door

painted the devil on the hood of his car
and watched them drive away

only now will she pass over my unmarked home
all I have to do is find it again

Amy’s work is featured in Friends Journal, Califragile, Every Pigeon, apt, and more.  She is a 2016 Willamette Writers Kay Snow Poetry award recipient for her poem “About Face.” She has worked on revision with Paulann Petersen and Renee Watson and participates in generative groups hosted by Allison Joseph and Jenn Givhan. She feels frequently deluded and has decided to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sensation.

Recommended Posts