“Dance with the Devil” is a poem written by 14-year-old poet and women’s advocate Anya Thakur. She works to empower and uplift communities as founder of GirlUp Dallas, a UN Women organization, and a MetoWe partner with ArtRising, which provides arts enrichment to underprivileged communities and creates diverse programming for South and East Asian women. Hosting education, self-defense, and language and literature classes to empower rural women in Delhi, Mumbai, and Munipur, and humanitarian efforts with Myna Mahila, which empowers women in rural India through health education, her women’s advocacy promotes UN Women’s mission to ensure a fair and equitable future, and she has traveled throughout the United States and India to speak for girl’s education and empowerment.
Dance with the Devil
it should have been bass heavy shockwaves and music so loud i drowned underneath it, tube lights curving into halos and horns and just a few floors underneath heaven.
instead it was suffocation, soft and slow as I was snuffed out by the night.
I jumped from the pier and plunged into the icy water, shocks sharp as needles piercing my skin, and choked out mouthfuls of salt saturated seawater.
a python caressed my lungs and I could feel its smooth skin and scales sliding over and cutting into my ribs, ready to tighten and wrap and coil itself around my body and swallow me alive.
shadows pirouetted across the walls in a mesmerizing ballet, as a gloved hand covered my mouth and curved around my neck because I was expected to be scared and scream.
and once it was done and I was panting, exhausted on the floor, and sweat seeping through flimsy black silk, the devil leaned over and whispered in my ear,
“thank you for this dance.”
and I was wrecked. It wasn’t the dare or the promise I expected. It was simplicity, gratuitous yet cordial.
by the end of it, the worst sin I had committed was thinking the devil could possess me, doubting I deserved more.
satan would pray to be spared from me.
I had enough fire to burn this room to ash, and the hell I had been tempted with was nothing compared to the inferno raging inside me. If angels could fly with feathers, I would wear wings of fire.
I knew exactly what I was doing when I let the devil in, and exactly what I was doing when I shut the door.
I danced with the devil the way they taught me to dance ballet, weight on the tips of my toes, broken bones turned numb and curved artfully too far, all silent smiles and steely spine, without letting anyone ever see my pain.
It’s a scary thought, a girl becoming all the things she’s been warned about and supposedly sheltered from.
and it scared the devil away.