Spirit Catcher

by Catherine Rogers
poets.org
Honorable Mention, June 2008
Judged by Patricia Smith


What do you do when it’s full?
I ask the proprietor. She frowns.
She obviously thinks
I’m not serious.

Most people don’t have that many
evil spirits visiting their house.

The glass orb winks and twirls
on its thread. How many
are in there now?

They don’t come here.

Not to this shop. Too many
spirit catchers hung in the window,
too much lucky incense adrift
in the still air. Runes and stones.
I take up an amethyst, sure to protect
against drunkenness, a gift
for the dissolute.

But what if–? She’s doing
the books.

What if they foment
a demon revolution?
What if the last one in
is a rotten egg? What if
the shell cracks and leaks
its malice all over the parlor?

If we don’t know
how many angels can boogaloo
on the head of a pin,
how can we number the legions
of lust and envy that can cram
themselves into this delicate sphere?

Too risky, thanks. I step
into sunlight. I’ll just
have to handle my sins
one at a time.


One of those things that make you go "Ummmm....," a delightful, and slightly sinister, answer to a question we all wish we'd asked. --Patricia Smith

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