When Satan Holds Your Hand
By Andrea Cladis
The envious strike of his backwards look.
His twisted eyes in cable ties
with maimed feet smoothly mystifying as omnipresent glass eyes.
Clever words, cunning demeanor.
Oh, it’s the smile you can’t resist.
And those eyes, those eyes, those deep, deceptively dreamy,
Satan says politely, “Hello my dear love and how are you today?
Penelope responds eagerly, “I’m cold from black ice; it gripped my heels.”
Satan, “Ah, yes, the darkness, it heals.”
Penelope, “So fond of the darkness seems a folly so strange – an obsession or compulsion, what
is your range?”
Satan, “A career really. Mining in death. The funeral of the soul – each one their hands do I take.”
Penelope, “Touch my hand so I can cure the darkened fear of your reality.”
Satan, “Oh, don’t touch. Hold out both hands and come with me to the promised lands. Where
the white of your skin becomes quickened black while the vagrant hope to sleep, broods, alas.”
Penelope, “Why sleep sounds nice and pleasant; it makes me quiver. But my skin I want to stay
this white or maybe pink like the flowers down the valley road.”
Satan, “Well pink like blush I certainly can do, whatever makes you happy. A flower or two?”
Penelope, “What flowers? Where do we find them? Can you make grow just like them?”
Satan, “Oh, yes, grow you will! With fertilizer in every vein, pistol, and stamen. You will grow
tall and fragrant and all will wish to see you, to be with and hold your very hands so soft
like petals in spring fields of orchids and lilies.”
Penelope, “Oh, lovely! It sounds so lovely. Can we see the pink flowers now?”
Satan, “I will bring you to them, if you’ll only follow a little closer, dear.”
Penelope, “Closer, why yes, I am here. Sammy, is your name?”
Satan, “Samuel, Sammy, it’s all the same. Whatever you wish to call me, there’s no feel of shame.
Penelope, “No fear of shame? Never, ever?! I will be free to do and free to see all this world
offers to me?”
Satan, “It will be dark, I can promise you, but no shame to feel, no love to break hearts, no
cynicism. Only sinister, the hope you can bring to others.”
Penelope, “Lead me to the flowers, so I can grow like they. Lead me to the flowers so the
shame I feel will be put at bay.”
Satan, “Sammy leads while your God pleads. But what is it you hear? Oh, you must to take me
by the hand, dear one, I fear the end is near!”
Penelope, “God created the fields and the flowers, this he tells me so. God created me in his
image and this I am happiest for.”
Satan, “Oh, darling! The image of God. He would want you to reach out your hands to others.
To give in your love and your tender heart, to open your hands to me.”
Penelope, “If I put my small hands into the spider webs of yours, you take me to the flowers so
can absorb their colors and grow big and strong as they?”
He clasped her hands with a ferocity of trusted spite and smiled while her hands took on a shake of gray.
Satan, “Almost there, dear one. Do you want to play?”
Penelope, “I feel so tired, your hands are so warm. Don’t let go until we are there.”
He released her with a wily grin of expectancy and sardonic ennui.
The flowers were pink and gold,
fuchsia and lime green.
They smelled of
ash and things unseen.
Penelope tore off a soft, single petal with her dark gray, callow hands.
Sammy left her with a token, an ivory, silken sash.
It read in screaming, moving letters:
Grow your hands, your petals to share, and dear one, feel no shame.
For surely she could gather all the flowers in her hands,
and at last when she did,
she’d evermore win his game.