Tug Me Here, Tug Me There

Emily Wolff

The rooster crows, but there is no heavenly dream to awake from, only a hellish nightmare. 

I sit perched, bathed in gold. 

Eyes of fire flickering with the low-burning candle. 

Bloodshot and dry as the tears have come and gone much like the night. 

I am nothing more than a caged animal with my haloed horns, 

 

the angel on my shoulder holding tight. 

It stands its ground refusing to surrender me 

to the devil whispering in my opposing ear. 

 

The bed lay forgotten, for sleep left me a while ago, 

and he (the temptation I fell for) no longer finds solace here. 

Rather he is wrapped around her, tangled in her sheets. 

An ugly sneer crosses my face; he is supposed to be mine, yet he chooses her every night.  

I twist startling the dust bunnies into a frenzy; however, 

 

it is not enough to loosen the angel’s claws                    and silence the devil’s tongue. 

 

My finger grazes the pillow that once held his indentation. 

Head tilted to the side a lock of hair falls across my face, 

and I habitually wait for a hand to tuck it back behind my ear. 

Before I am forced to move the hair away myself as his hand is not there to do so.  

My hand grabs and squeezes the pillow as if it can force him back. 

 

The devil giggles  

before clicking its tongue at my attempt, 

and the angel sinks its claws deeper  

at the devil’s taunt. 

    

I have only just noticed that it no longer smells of cinnamon and sandalwood. 

My hand jerks back hugging my chest as if a heat licked at my fingers, 

yet when I look the wax has drowned the wick. 

In turn my eyes darken, the faint bruising growing more pronounced. 

These dark circles were his gift to me when he left beckoning sleep to follow. 

One long, slow blink followed by two, 

but there is only the squeezing of the halo on the horns. 

 

The devil becomes more persistent 

as if sensing a stranglehold. 

It yowls as if 

the angel has sprinkled holy water upon me. 

 

Like holy water would be enough to fix the damage I have allowed to be done. 

Not like it would matter as he took and locked my heart away long ago. 

I sit empty, stuck waiting for him to return and hopefully give back my heart. 

I have nearly withered down to a shell of the person I once was. 

The things capable of reviving me dwindling as well. 

 

I have danced with the devil 

and he only stepped on my toes. 

Even the angel’s harp 

attempting to cleanse my mind and body 

made my ears bleed.  

 

A tremor starting in my toes takes hold, yet his soothing hands do not come. 

Even with my eyes closed and breathing slowed 

I cannot capture the phantoms of a caress no more. 

I lift my hand watching its shadow shake as if it is inconsolable. 

It misses his and the interlocking of his fingers that brought stillness. 

Eyes shifting to the window, 

did sleep take peace with it or did he steal more than I gave him? 

 

The angel will say he is the thief  

that took everything from me. 

Claiming a dip in the water will fix me. 

The devil will say I am the one  

who gave him everything. 

Then offer to sic the hounds on him. 

 

Neither is right. We are left to play this game every night 

until I either break or fold. This, however, was not the night. 

And so, 

the choice already made, I rise in search of elusive peace as another day dawns. 

Contributor's Note

Emily Wolff is in her first year of graduate school studying for her MA in Literature. She plans to finish her MA before going on to receive a PhD with hopes of contributing to a brighter tomorrow. Her love for books is what created her love for writing, and she wants to use her love for writing to inspire the world. She has come to find that it is therapeutic to express herself through poetry. 

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