Monday, October 6, 2008

Sister Hayes Takes Up a Serpent by Rosanne Griffeth

Sister Hayes, she lifts her eyes up to the Lord so hard they roll back. She sings sacred songs and dances, quick-stepping and jerking as the anointing descends.

It descends like a tree a'falling. It falls like a wall of water. It walls up all fear of darkness. It fears no man or serpent.

Sister Hayes, she has the gift of tongues. She speaks them as she dances, hands held high and waving. She shakes so hard she bites her tongue. That, she says, is what happens when the anointing descends.

It descends like tear drops falling. It drops like a cloak of shadows. It shadows out the light of evil. It lights the darkest heart.

Sister Hayes, she wears her hair down. The Spirit rocks her hard. She twists and moans, "Oh Dear Lord, Sweet Jesus!" She can feel Him coming through her fingertips. And this how the anointing descends.

It descends like a bolt of lightning. It bolts the locks of Hell. It locks the box of sins. It boxes the devil's gifts.

Sister Hayes, she takes up a serpent. She fears no deadly thing. Her Lord holds her and she can feel Him quickening. She lifts up the rattlesnake, wears it like a crown.

Sister Hayes, she rolls her eyes up, serpents slither in her hair.

Sister Hayes, she tilts her head back, breathless for a holy kiss.

Rosanne Griffeth's work has been published or accepted by Night Train, Keyhole Magazine, Smokelong Quarterly, Pank, The Angler, Insolent Rudder, Thieves Jargon and Six Little Things among other places. She lives on the verge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and spends her time writing, milking goats and documenting Appalachian culture. She is the blogger behind The Smokey Mountain Breakdown.


Anonymous said...

First thing I thought of, the first thing I saw as I read this was old Lily Tomlin playing "Sister Boogie Woman" on television. You got the rhythm, the moves, the whole enchilada in just a few words.

The Legendary

Dave Tabler said...

Rosie, you sure know how to put the 'hiss' in that 'kiss.' The Legendary's right: you've got that pulse pounding surge in the patois. My heart was racing by piece's end.

Laura Ellen Scott said...

so I have read and re-read "Sister Hayes" over the past week. It's great. It doesn't really go somewhere new with the subject, but it's special in the way it works itself up. Kind of like a Daniel Lanois ballad.

Sue said...

it's a thing of beauty when form follows function.