Sympathy for the Devil

fire woman angel devil

He was there.

Standing in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.

His cropped hair, dark.

Eyes even darker.

Jaw clean and sharp.

He was looking at Rice Chex and waiting with a couth eye for exactly what he knew would come.

Sita arrived in aisle four, her arms wrapped around a dozen eggs, a half gallon of milk dangling in her hand. Beside boxes with leprechauns, rabbits and elves hawking their sugar coated delights, she stood, frozen, debating whether a woman her age should be buying frosted flakes or something more responsible, wavering in that moment not just about her breakfast choices, but the path of lunch, dinner, and everything beyond.

One doesn’t expect to meet the devil while shopping for cereal. We think his reddened grin will creep up on us while we dwell in the abyss misery, not while we’re contemplating our whole grain, fiber rich options. But that Tuesday afternoon, the Price of Darkness leaned past Sita and reached for that same box that she had her eye on.

“I love these things,” he said as he glanced her way with a smile that simultaneously spoke of triviality, yet also seemed to say “I know who you are.”

She smiled back, took a box for herself and nodded, for she knew him too.

In the parking lot, her cart rattling with a faulty wheel, she saw him again.  He was loading his trunk with the groceries of a middle aged man.

“Enjoy your frosted flakes,” she called, as if she were a clumsy girl at fifteen.

“Absolutely.” He smiled again.

And from there they began, talking about weather and civic involvement and the price of gasoline, but they both knew these words were just costumes for a deeper message that passed between their eyes:

“I know you.”

“I know you”

“I know you.”

He did not need to make an effort, nor did she for future meetings to occur, for the collaboration of external forces, these unseen hands of life and fate, seemed to guide them.

One morning over iced Americanos he said to her, straight and clear:

“Sita, I’m the devil.”

“But of course,” she laughed.

It was then that he began to talk. Sita listened. Intently.  She was entranced by the way he understood suffering, the way he could see exactly what everyone desired. She marveled at his disdain for humanity and the way he could control it all.

She didn’t falter. She was not afraid.  To her he was like a dark, seductive snake coming in close. She liked how he moved, concealed so slightly by blades of grass, his tongue flickering as he spoke.  She didn’t question his words, the way he boasted about his skills of studying and devouring his prey.

An espresso machine hissed behind them and Sita slipped in to the sound.  This married woman with a loving heart had been in a dilemma, not just of which cereal to buy, but which life she should live.  She yearned for the freedom of no longer having to live a self-imposed notion of goodness…of being the one who must bring light to a room, mend broken backs, and soiled hearts.

For here, in front of her was the antidote.

Here was her mirrored opposite.

Greed, anger, jealousy, revenge – the things she resisted and loathed about herself were his daily companions. His closest friends.

So one day she went to his home.  There amidst his tidy walls, his carefully made bed, she gave in to her cereal box needs.  With no regard for what she would lose, she let his precise, planned version of passion make its way in, calculated, controlled. She let this creature of the night take her breath, choke her, swallow her whole.

But all the while she smiled…and laughed, for the first time in maybe her whole life, she allowed darkness to rule, without guilt.  Freedom spoke.  She was no longer a slave to the plastic goodness to which she had bound herself.

But one does not sleep with a lion and expect to not be scratched.

Her husband knew what had happened the moment he saw her.  Without falter, he asked her to leave. He was not angry, simply just broken.

So she moved into a home where the sounds of loneliness echoed against the walls.

Then one day the Prince of Darkness returned.

In her new bed, in a house without family, she once again allowed the devil’s skin, marked in alabaster and blue to meet her own.

There both of them tried desperately to get their fill and as they did she watched his face. It was not the familiar one of power and mastery, but a look of smallness, sadness.  And as her body moved obdedient with the pulses of his, she observed his starkness, and it occurred to her that perhaps what she saw was not him at all, but herself.

Shocked to see the depth of her own pain marked on another’s face, she starred, transfixed. Harsh pain and the beauty of loneliness danced before her eyes.  Swept now fully into the tornado between them, she felt as the rhythms he pounded out melting into the rhythms of the world.  Hunger, dissatisfaction, greed, jealousy, self-loathing were conjured on her ceiling, upon the walls.

As she felt herself peak, she could now see in her mind’s eye her own empty wound of dissatisfaction, her lifetime of paper grins, self-hatred, and the forced flat happiness she expected of those around her.  And as she watched the man who called himself the devil fight to relieve his pain within her, the truth arose.

She had become exactly what she feared.

He finished incomplete, a lion without a kill.  She watched as he put on his shirt, fixed his hair. They talked about the weather, civic involvement, and the price of gasoline and she walked him to the door.

Two months have passed and the devil is gone.  He has moved on to more promising prey, new forms of deception, self-torment, new spaces to burn.

But for her, in the place where scorched souls lay, life is coming.  With diligence and love her new home is now filled with flowers, butterflies dance on her walls, and she breathes in the joy of no longer denying the unnamable spaces in her heart.

She has met the devil, seen his truth.  And she knows, in the barren land of honesty – anger dissolves into sadness.  Addiction, greed, and lust dissolve into wounds of lost love. And for this reason the woman, in her new home of butterflies and daisies, eats her sugar coated cereals and dances with light, for she knows there is nothing to fear. She has peered into the darkness, held its hand, looked in the mirror, seen its sadness and finally understands the horrific elegance of loss, hunger, and love.


The Coat of Yesterdays – A New Year’s Poem

blue red namked woman

I wore my past like a woolen coat,
pockets laden with lead.
Each stitch, each thread held a story,
woven tight with
the ‘who I was’
But today the summer sun is bright,
the silken lining of ‘should have beens
is worn
and so I slough off this layer,
strip down my burden
down, down
to my golden skin,
a naked girl,
of air and light.
In this sun I am nothing but
‎the glorious Now,
‎no longer a slave to my own legends,
‎to the books of other writers’ words
‎i am just.
‎just breath.
‎just air.
‎just light.
‎Bare to the sun
‎and completely free
‎of my woolen coat
of yesterday.

Night Vision



Author’s Note: I was having trouble sleeping the other night, so I got up and started writing.  I have to say I was a bit surprised when this came out….

Once there was a princess, who had everything she ever wanted, but her life still felt empty. So, one night, while the palace was asleep, she slipped out the iron gate into the woods. The girl followed a trail of silver light along a path, lead only by the beckoning call of frogs within the wood.

Deep in the forest of pines, she stopped and stared at the moon. Away from the castle, this moon was much more beautiful than she ever knew. There beneath its brightness, she found herself smiling, experiencing a happiness she forgot she knew. So, alone among the oaks and pines, she danced in her shimmering gown of gold, her lithe body making silhouettes against the moonlit ground.

Every night, intoxicated by its greatness, she went into the wood and danced, sure that she could feel the moon’s silver kiss on her skin. In her gratitude, she brought her dear moon gifts: a white feather, a beautiful stone, and a deep green leaf. And although this celestial being did not speak, she decided she needed no thanks, for its constant glow alone was all she asked for.

Then one night, when she stepped out onto the trail, she could not see. The frogs did not sing, the crickets did not chirp. Her path was total darkness. Stumbling her way out to her space in the forest, she looked up to the sky and called out.

“Oh, moon? Moon? Where have you gone?” But there was no answer, only the cool breeze of the whispering wind.

The princess in the golden gown went home and wept. She cried, angry at herself as it dawned on her thatperhaps this moon, this creature of the night, was never hers to begin with.

What sort of foolish girl falls in love with the moon? she thought.

In her grief she was left empty… just a hollow girl, alone.

One night sleep refused to come. She lay awake in bed, her curtains open, looking to the black sky. Breathing long, slow breaths, she felt as if every golden spark of joy she ever knew was lost in the woods during the nights before.

As she lay there gazing at the subtle movement of blackened clouds, she heard a distant call.

Hoo, hoo, hoo….

The call of an owl.

She had heard once that owls were messengers of death, and in her sorry state death seemed dully appropriate.

Death of love, death of hope… she thought under a heavy dose of self-pity.

Hoo, hoo, hoo, it called again.

She covered her head with a pillow, but the owl kept on calling.

Fed up, she went to her window and opened it. On a nearby oak stood a white owl, its yellow eyes looking at her. It ruffled its feathers as if mocking her sorry state.

“Go away,” she called to it, but it merely flapped its wings and flew to a closer branch.

Determined to scare off this harbinger of death, she ran out of her room, down the stairs, out the palace gate, and onto the trail. The owl up ahead flapped its wings and glided in complete silence to a tree ahead. She followed.

And so it went–the owl, moving from tree to tree and the princess following behind, determined to scare it far away from the castle. This went on for quite some time until the princess paused and looked around. She was deep in the woods, alone, in the dark, without her moon.

However in that moment something strange happened. She realized that even without the moon above, she was not blind.

Far from it!

In fact, her eyes had become so well adjusted she could see the details in the bark of the trees, the dancing leaves on their limbs, and the tiny movement of small creatures on the ground.

Hoo hoo, the owl called again.

Then there, in this subtle darkness, she felt a change within herself. A warmth grew from within her chest. Her own heart was alive with radiance. This loving energy flowed outward towards her hands, her legs, her feet, until she was wrapped in that same luscious joy she felt from the moon, but tenfold!

As she stood in rapture, she wondered if maybe it was not the love she received from the silent moon that had driven her dance, but something grander, something that reached beyond the sky, beyond the forest…outward, full circle, then back into her own heart.

And so that night, beneath the cloud covered sky she danced, bathed not in moon light, but at light that came from within.

To this day, you will still find the princess in the golden gown out dancing in the forest. Sometimes it will be with the wise, old trees, the playful frogs, or the noisy crickets, and sometimes it will even be with her dear old moon, but regardless of who accompanies her each night, one thing stands the same: you will always find that princess dancing with joy, illuminating her world with her own golden heart.


Authors Note: To me this is a story about being pulled by our own desire for happiness, and the mistake we make grounding it in material things–people, objects, places, believing that they will cure your woes, but in the end all  these things are fleeting. Like the princess in the golden gown, it’s not until we learn to find that inner joy-that love of Self that we can be truly content with ourselves and our world.  The moon didn’t have all the answers, only the girl did, within herself.

All you can really work on is yourself.  That’s it. As my friends Tim and Marybeth say, “It’s an inside job.” 

That it is.

May you  dance everyday of your life by the golden glow of your heart.