Today’s poetry challenge prompt, is to write a poem based off of a myth. I’ve chosen West Indian folklore as the basis for my poem.
Background to the story of La Diablesse:
Throughout the West Indies, many folkloric tales are passed down through generations. In Antigua…as in Trinidad and Dominica, there exists a tale that has survived since the days of slavery. It’s the legend of La Diablesse or The Devil Woman.
In the days when electricity didn’t exist and there were acres and acres of woodlands and vast plantations, many tired workers made their way home after the end of a long day by cutting through cane fields and forests. It is along these obscure paths that La Diablesse lurked…waiting to lure tired, drunk and unsuspecting men to their deaths.
It is said that La Diablesse was an extremely attractive woman to look at…very shapely. She wore long, fashionable dresses which covered her feet and a wide brimmed hat which covered most of her face. Her voice was soft and seductively sweet and she used it to cast her spell on hapless male victims.
La Diablesse would then lure her victim deep into the woods, often towards the edge of a dangerous precipice with sweet words and promises of a rendezvous. When she took her victim to his place of death, she would lift her hat and the hem of her dress, revealing her ghoulish face and her one cloven foot to him. In his fright and sudden realization that he’d been had by La Diablesse, he’d plunge to his death over the precipice or go mad and wander the woods until he died.
Here is my piece:
He reaches into his pocket for the sweaty handkerchief,
wipes his face and lifts the flask from his hip.
He takes a swallow and sets his face
towards his homeward trip.
On the path he’s taken hundreds of times,
he walks through bushes and under trees
taking another sip from the trusty flask
when he lifts his head and sees…
the most beautiful woman in the middle of the woods.
Her skin… the colour of bark,
covered in a long, flowing dress.
Her face covered by a wide brimmed hat, shielding her in the dark.
He smiled and tipped his hat in greeting
and turned to go on his way
but then…she spoke and her voice was like honeyed music
and he felt his body sway.
She beckoned him to come a little closer
and whispered words so strange
that even though he meant to leave
he felt his desire change.
Through the woods they walked and talked
he was miles away from home,
All sense of time had slipped away
as through the fields they roamed.
Then suddenly she turned and said
“This is where we’ll part.”
She lifted her hat and showed him her face
it stilled his beating heart.
La Diablesse cackled at his fright
he’d never imagined this
He thought of his wife just moments before
he was kicked off the precipice.
His grandpa’s words were his dying thoughts:
“Son when you walk alone at night
and temptation puts you to the test,
don’t mind a pretty face or clothes
it may be La Diablesse!”
(Copyright 2014 by chattinatti)