Monday, October 26, 2009

Nest of Devils - Matthew Francis

When we moved into the old house
we found a nest of devils in the cellar,
like cats with horns and covered in red fur.

They were too fast to catch.
you had to watch their spiked tails,
and one of them gave me a painful bite.

It was only defending its young, I suppose,
the little devils. Their eyes weren't open yet.
At night the mother devil sang to them.

There was always a lot of noise in that cellar.
They spoke Latin or some language
that was all long words and clanging sounds,

like dropping something heavier than aitches.
Sometimes they came upstairs at night
and we heard them whispering on the landing.

A man from the council came but they liked the poison.
A priest came and told them to get behind him,
and a few Hell's Angels came to worship them.

We thought they'd lower the value of the house.
They were a fire risk, anyway. Sometimes
things burst into flame when they touched them,

but they always looked guilty. (Or was that just their colour?)
I used to think they were trying to communicate.
They would stare very hard and wave their pitchforks.

And then one morning they were gone.
Perhaps the cellar got too cold for them
or too many people had told them to go to hell.

But some nights I pause as I pass the cellar
thinking maybe the species has been misunderstood,
and what if right now I smelt brimstone behind the door –

would I be tempted to leave them there? You know, I think I would.

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