Mother Demons

by Margaret Wack


Our father demons are expansive; mother demons
all are similar: a slick, sorcerous sore
disguised in silks or else dead or else too sick
and sullen to think straight. The mother demon
often presents herself as a gem of sparkling glass,
lost or else shattered, or else clutched greedily
in the ripe hand of a tyrannical uncle, or else
colored with the blood of children, toxic
as apples to the touch. Mother demons can be
all ivory and honey-combs and clotted cream
but do not trust them, they are liable to break
at a touch into dangerous shards, or else
they are obdurate and crush you anyway, or else
they carve a keening place inside your soul
and disappear. No matter how many times you kill
the mother demon she returns, sharp-toothed
and vengeful. No matter how many times
villainous men put fire to the mother demon
she burns calmly and cleanly and rises
the next morning and makes tea. It’s no use trying
to escape them—they are young and old,
sweet-tongued and stupid, strong and scared,
silvery with sex and blue and cold and virginal.
Even on the sidewalk of the street of the far-distant
country in which you have come to live the mother demons
still surround you on all sides, we are everywhere,
we shine and sparkle, we call out to you by name.