In the Afternoon

Charles Simic

The devil likes the chicken coop.
He lies on a bed of straw
Watching the snow fall.
The hens fetch him eggs to suck,
But he’s not in the mood.

Cotton Mather is coming tonight,
Bringing a young witch.
Her robe already licked by flames,
Her bare feet turning pink
While she steps to the woodpile,

Saying a prayer; her hands
Like mating butterflies –
Or are they snowflakes?
As the smoke rises,
And the grey afternoon light returns

With its wild apple tree
And its blue pickup truck,
The one with a flat tyre,
And the rusted kitchen stove
They meant to take to the dump.