Friday, May 23, 2014


Long ago I heard or read the story
Of a nun who was possessed by a demon.
An exorcist was called, then two, then three
Then all that could be found in the province.
They labored long days and into the nights.
Crowds gathered; the Abbess threw the gates wide
Lest some child be crushed by those pressing
To see within. It wasn’t Easter but the bakers
Came selling hot cross buns. Under a tree
Puppet devils dragged puppet Faust to Hell.

At last, pale and shaken, the demon came forth
He fell on his knees and kissed the ground;
Would have kissed the Bishop’s hand too except
The Bishop slipped it behind his back.
“Thank you, gentlemen all! A little wine –
Not consecrated, mind you! – and I’ll speak.
Two years ago it was, at least; an August day;
A hot sun; the drone of pollen-heavy bees;
What wonder that I should lie down?
But gardens are dangerous to more then men.

“I am not a large demon; I made myself less
And settled on a lettuce leaf to drowse
Remembering inconsequential things
Musing, half asleep, I was defenseless
When that large white hand swooped suddenly down
Tore off the leaf, and me still on it,
And swallowed us whole! May you never know
The things I have seen, nor experience a tithe
Of my sufferings! Not for all Hell’s riches
Would I return, nor for a share of Heaven
Would I spend one minute more listening
To the dark whisperings of that nun’s heart!”

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