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.

This entry was posted in Fiction, rosanne griffeth, sister hayes takes up a serpent, snake-handling. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sister Hayes Takes Up a Serpent by Rosanne Griffeth

  1. Sue says:

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

  2. Laura Ellen Scott says:

    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.

  3. Dave Tabler says:

    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.

  4. Anonymous says:

    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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.