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Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 12:01 am

A poem for All Hallow’s Eve

 1
 all hallows eve sequence

how to cope with that word halloween
a time before the day before
a time for welcoming a healthy hour
something wholesome a pleasing scent
like bread baking in the oven

someone with flour on her hands
or her forehead where she brushed the hair
away from her brown eyes

a healing for a bruised body a troubled mind
a cry of bless this good hour and you in it
a sacred interval a moment of consecration
and if the dead have to walk abroad this night
may they sleep easy with all the saints
when hymnbooks open in the morning

this is the thirtieth and pegs birthday
and tomorrow ediths my sister in law
oh wonderful spooky wives

the grandkids carved pumpkins last night
brought birthday presents for peg
molly renee with a thoughtful choice
a fragile necklace with peace symbols
a match for grandmothers earrings

diwali as of last saturday until today
hindu time for a world given to light
the harvest days and dark hours blazing
the soul brightening for that moment
beyond tragedy for a little while
like sanskrit drama where what is reprehensible
can never be exalted on stage
and destiny grants beyond imagining
a graceful journey through winter

2
earlier this evening
went to washington park
following crowds into darkness
climbing to the top of the hill
beneath the shadow of the bell tower

jack-o-lanterns everywhere
alongside the paths
arranged in brooding circles
or hanging from tree limbs
small lights peering from darkness
faces almost human

the crowd lost in silence
moving so slowly
each pumpkin inspected
each artists handiwork considered

the tower rang out a peal of bells
then came the recording
a night on bald mountain

something for the memory those sleepy children
safe on the shoulders of their fathers
the soft voices of their mothers and sisters

and later at home
still deep in that recollection
if I looked into the hall mirror
what carved image would I see

my neighbor has established a cemetery
tombstones in his front yard
sticking upright or rather
bent over in the wind
for graves bowed down with the years
all beggars will have to pass through

strange the merchandizing of this holiday
the ghoulish items for sale in the department stores
supermarkets with their bony skulls
witch hats masks and scarecrows
all this for all hallows and candy for children
coming with parents to your door

3
now at ten to eight this evening
my granddaughter emails from anchorage
she says it is four degrees there
and she has decided it is no night for a princess
no she will put on a just waking up in bed costume
will be wrapped in layers of blankets

but no she emails again
she did not beg in wake ups after all
chose to join the other street beggars
as a lady pirate (her phrase)
there are special acts reserved for creation
like eleven year old girls

and yes it is time to care for
all these poor souls of october
anonymous companions they might be called
as our world of small dimensions
would embrace beyond our time
that somewhere everywhere wherever they are

please remember us with a good word
as we stop now to pray for you

and this is the night in ireland
the door locks are left open
the long dark hours for the companionable dead
as time shelters all hallows eve

and in mexico the great aztec ruins
left empty the year but for the archaeologist
and the wandering steps of tourists
become a city of the living
and all that can be remembered
as the candled streets bathe the hours in light
and the dead gather to welcome their living home

and goodbye my friends
may a holy light shine on you
from the first heartbeat in time
and wake with us in these hours
yes and forever
 
John Knoepfle is celebrating his 90th Halloween this year. He is the author of many books of poems, the latest being Shadows and Starlight. Retired from Sangamon State University where he taught literature and writing, he lives in Jerome and tries to strike a few lines of poetry each day.

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