Poem: “The Devil and the Girl”

((A lengthy poem inspired by a half-dream about the interactions between the Devil and a young girl who knows death all too well.))


“I can help you, if you’d like,” said the Devil to the girl
In a garden filled with daffodils with dew strung up like pearls
“Make with me a contract, and pay to me your soul
“And your pet’s life will return to you, untarnished, true, and whole”

The weeping girl drew back a sob, drew palms over her eyes
She’d yet to come to understand that every creature dies
The Devil had no pity for some child with dirt-stained cheeks
But he offered her a hand to hold for comfort she may seek

Still sorrowful and mourning there before the makeshift grave
It seemed the girl, with certainty, would choose the dead be saved
But on that springtime morning day, she took the Devil’s hand
And through her hiccuped, stuttered breaths, she uttered something grand

“Someday,” said the little girl, “Maybe someday, but not now.
I’ll take your deal another day, if later I’m allowed.”
And to this statement, clear as glass, the Devil found no words
The Devil simply vanished then, as if he had not heard


He saw her next, some afternoon, with lilies pale and tall
The maiden stood in solitude, her heartbreak like a shawl
Despite the swell of summer heat, her countenance was grey
Appeared, the Devil said to her, “I’ve permitted your delay.”

She hardly seemed to notice that the Devil had come at all
And only when he took her arm did tears begin to fall
“I can’t recall your words,” the maiden, trembling, then confessed
“What offer did you make me when you found me so distressed?”

“Make with me a contract, and your mother I’ll revive
My price is that when your life ends, your soul will not survive”
The Devil told her graciously; to this the maiden smiled
“I understand,” she said to him. “The choice will take a while.”

Although he knew not patience, for of virtues he knew none
The Devil waited, silently, until her thoughts were done
“Someday,” said the maiden then. “Maybe someday, but not now.
I’ll take your deal another day, if later I’m allowed.”


The leaves were ruddy, drunk on air, when he approached her next
Her hair was bloodied, eyes rimmed red; the Devil grew perplexed
And then she keened, a mourning wail, hands clasping at her heart
As if it somehow ceased to work and could be willed to start

It was an opportunity, for this time she’d concede
He’d captured her near perfectly, caught in her time of need
But as she cried out in her plight, alone in that dim road
The Devil could not bring himself to say what could be owed

He watched the woman, veiled in grief, collapse against the car
And in his own absent approach, he took a step too far
She looked upon him, bleary-eyed, and crumpled in despair
“You came too early,” she choked out, and the Devil was aware

The woman and the corpse, he saw, were wearing matching rings
She would not get the chance to see the joys marriage may bring
“Still someday,” said the woman, pained, “Still someday, still not now.”
The Devil murmured quietly, “And later, I’ll allow.”


Like winter night that blew outside, the room was white and cold
The Devil noticed easily the infant in her hold
He knew before he said a word what her response would be
The mother glanced upon his form and smiled somberly

“If not now, then when?” the Devil asked of her, confused.
“If after mother, lover, child my offer stays unused?”
The mother gave no answer, merely kissed her baby’s head
And gently placed it back upon the wires of its bed

“‘Someday’, you say,” the Devil said, “but why, I can’t conceive
“Why do you let the Devil come intrude while you still grieve?”
The mother did not answer him, and said instead, “Hello.
“Please have a seat, converse with me, before you have to go.”

Faced with the mother’s fragile smile, the Devil could not speak
At his lack of answer back, the mother’s will grew weak
“Still not yet,” the mother sobbed, “I’ll allow this soul to cross.”
The Devil let her cling to him and was sorry for her loss.


The Devil met the dying girl in a faded, homely room
What time it was, he did not know save that it was too soon
“There’s nothing left,” the Devil said, “I’ve no more deals to give
“There is no offer I can make in which you still will live”

The dying maiden’s laugh was like a windchime in the rain
Though lovely, it was dampened, weak, would never be the same
“You still don’t know,” she said with inappropriate delight
And though the Devil took offense, he found that she was right

Before he could do much at all, he felt a fragile grip
The dying woman said to him, “I sought companionship.”
And the Devil was incredulous, for this was no defense
For surely, she was well aware that it was all pretense

He told her this, and asked some more, demanded a reply
The dying mother said to him, “My friend, this is goodbye.”
And then, looking quite at peace, she offered him her gentle soul.
For stringing him along, she laughed, she’d pay a thankful toll

The Devil kept his vigilance until she breathed her last
He found not strength to do much else until the girl had passed
And when her soul emerged, without a pause, he let it free
He watched the light ascend to somewhere he could never be

The Devil had been everything: beginning, middle, end
But this was the first time, honestly, that he’d been called a friend.

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