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A Love Poem to Insanity, Claire Cortese

My guardian angel is a black skulled demon.

Pearl white marble eyes and razor teeth,

she rises with the moon

to perch at the edge of my bed while I sleep.

Her hands are more talon than finger,

her horns are slightly crooked.

Come dawn, she vanishes with the stars.

By the time the sun stretches into the sky,

she is the monster under my bed, sleeping.

When I am scared in the night

(or I feel alone)

I open my eyes and she is there.

She-demon, unalive but breathing silently;

breath that is consumed only to exhale growls, screeches, and

guttural thunders.

I assume she is guarding me

from other demons that stalk through the night,

but in truth, I do not know.

I do know that she has crossed the river,

bargained with Charon,

and clawed her way into the land of the living.

She will, at her desire, devour an entire orchard of pomegranates

and eat a thousand apples,

but she will never return to the dampened hell pits from where she came.


Claire Cortese was born and raised in rural New Hampshire. During her undergraduate studies, she received the Richard M. Ford Writing Award for Nonfiction, and the Frederick Hyde Hibberd ’88 Scholarship Award for Poetry from the University of New Hampshire. She received her M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Durham in England.

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