The Swedish Dragonfly Weighing Souls

by Carol Berg

Swedish folklore holds that the devil
 uses dragonflies to weigh people's souls.

My chiffon dragonwings quiver
uselessly. Souls swarm about us
tiny as mosquitoes until he clamps

onto their transparent forms. The devil
is speaking Swedish to me
as he pierces my black thorax

with another soul. It snaps like a round
hard cracker. I can’t help
but taste ground cardamom.

En flicka en flicka
the devil gibbers and grabs
the girl. He slips her

over me and her soul is
salmon-slick but weighs fin-thin.
He slurps it down—a quivering oyster.

Tack, kara du! he smirks.
I am not here, my mind
says my mind hears his voice

Du ar har. This soul, stiff
as a lingon-berry
I spit at its bitterness—

then sink as it drags me
high-speed into the blue