The Exorcism by Joyce Sutphen

It was homemade and primitive,
like pulling a tooth with a string
and a slamming door, like taking out
an appendix by kerosene light
where dogs wandered in and out
the dirt-floored room.
Nothing for the pain that
everyone wanted to examine,
the twisted heart they thought
they could shout back into place.

Moaning and fluttering their fleshy hands
on the wind, on the wail of the soul possessed,
they certified her in a manner Inquisitional,
frantic when she held to the grip of darkness,
grimly determined to wait the thing out,
something learned from movie sheriffs,
white hats ghostly in the moonlight.

When she would not answer (though they
conjured her by heaven and by the all
mighty names they knew), they laid hands
on her and shouted down the well of her eyes.
Many tongues twisted in their mouths when
she went, leaving behind only
the smallest tooth of wickedness.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/51503

Date: 2000

By: Joyce Sutphen (1949- )

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