Aphelion Issue 268, Volume 25
December 2021
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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Pa and the Devil

by Susan E. Wagner

Pa chopped by day, fed the
Bonfires by night, cold creepin’
Round to catch him unaware.

One night a loon cried, and the
Devil full appeared in the fire,
Horned and wicked red.

We youngins hid and no one
Heard nothin’, but we was
Shakin’ as they hand-grabbed.

The Devil left in flame-cover
And Pa stood, silent-straight,
Sippen’ whiskey, tossin’ logs.

Pa watched fire-dance all night
To the beat of sap splodin’ and
Sparks flyin’ — I watched him.

Sun-up came and I eye-rubbed
Saw a dark-gray Ash-Dad who
Stood by the glowin’ embers,

Till the north wind took him down.

2021 Susan E. Wagner

Susan Wagner grew up in the Pine Barrens, where nighttime bonfires and stories of the Jersey Devil were food and sleep. The deep woods fill her soul and spill over onto paper sometimes.

Find more by Susan E. Wagner in the Author Index.