Alyssandra Tobin

Devil Mother

Mother Leeds fed her devil child       
                       lavender cakes & egg yolks;

                                    she dressed him in goatskins
                                                embroidered with cats & dogs.
The other twelve children
                         had been hard, but this one

                                      was worse: winged, snaggle-
                                                  toothed, hard to grab onto.
Out of the corner of her eye
                         she would see a white shape

                                  & know that he was smiling
                                             with something warm in his mouth.

She kept the window open for him
                        even in winter, when the barrens

                                    were mute with snow.
                                               She wrote the future as the sky

told it, & she sold the almanac with all
                        the names for all the things in the ground.

                                    The likelihood of angels. The probability
                                               of them having claws.

The kind of music she played
                        needed only her thumb, a blade

                                    of river grass, & her pursed lips.
                                                There is nothing else a devil           

baby wants to hear, not even
                        singing, not even chanting.

                                    What does a mother do to a child
                                                who kills other children?

She wrote the names of spirits down
                        & did not give the town its bodies back.

                                    When he is hungry
                                                            nothing is wasted.

Alyssandra Tobin is a poet and short fiction writer from Boston, Massachusetts. She has been published or has work forthcoming in The HungerAtticus ReviewCurbside Splendor, The Quarryman, and others, and was awarded the Douglas A. Pinta Award in 2015. She recently received her MA in Creative Writing from the University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland. 


JD Thornton