by Danielle Byington
Stacey thought with blinded thought
Perdition looked attractive
Beside her crude trailer park
Home, so she prepared for the
Ritual: red cooking wine;
A bent, dagger-shaped nail file;
A package of clumped sugar;
A Virginia Slim taken
From her mother’s meager purse.
On the outskirts of the parked homes,
She lit the tobacco incense,
Clearing away impurities—
Until she had to relight it.
Between lighting the unsmoked cig,
Stacey drew a sugary star
To flag down the devil for her
Order of fame, health, and riches.
She jabbed and stabbed the nail file’s point
Into her palm, only to draw
Fleshy dents—not a drop of blood.
As above, so below, Stacey
Spilled the bitter red cooking wine
Down her ill-fitting shirt, and its
Stickiness glued her silver cross
To her chest, staining the sugar-star
That was beginning to blur with
The crawl of bugs: a sign from Him.
The setting sun made a silhouette
Out of her large, scooter-bound neighbor,
Who coasted over the gravel like
A demi-god leaving an auction.
Stacey smoothed the dimples in her palm.
Things would be different now.