Snowflakes scald the tender skin of devils.
The flakes crackle on impact, the sound
Of dogs barking, Cerebus at the gate
Wailing as a boy plays the lyre. It's strange
How the other day you called again
Asking for his number, somewhere in the desk,

Which gaped its paper teeth when it opened. Desks
Are odd sometimes, possessed by the devil,
Creaking when opened and shit. "Weird, again,
To hear your voice." Outside my window, the sound
Of car doors with children beside them. Strange
Children with tobogganed heads. They skate

Across the lawn, squeaking the neighbor's front gate
To rest behind them. "Hmm. . . not in my desk
Where I left it. That's really strange."
Icicles hand from the gutters, like devils'
Teeth smiling to the playing kids. "I'll check again."
The cherubim have raced inside now, and the sound

Of their squeals trails away. "You sound
Good." The desk is still empty. "How's Kate
And the children?" The family picture pulled again
From the drawer: a photograph of the hammock at dusk,
The dogs whining at night, the strange
Smell of lightning bugs clothing your body: a devil

Before the fall, the vague wings reclining. A devil
Haunts this house, a devil who hears the hollow sounds
Of snowflakes as they melt against the gate,
The children, their red faces. Winter arranges
Life in such cold order; a bitter aching
Which cuts at the soul. "It's not in the desk.

Sorry. Call you if I find it." The desk
Squats behind a chair: a mahogany devil,
The pictures crowning its head with horns. The sound
Of young voices interrupt: the children are out again.
They wave from the snow: young angels inside their gate.
Nine-two-five-one-four-six. Strange.

Had it the whole time. Strange. Right in the desk.
But to hear you again, the opening of a gate;
The sound of your voice, the call of the devil.

Mark Cunningham