Today is Halloween. This is what my sister, Booko, does to pumpkins this time of year:
Being much less adept with a knife, I think of Halloween as the annoyingly predictable day when the neighborhood kids come to ring my doorbell, sending The Wonder Dog into frenzied fits of insanity and the cat into traumatized seclusion, interrupting my solitude with their insincere and unconvincing cries of “trick or treat!” Of course, there are the practical souls who stand there silently, petulant, stubbornly holding out their buckets and pillowcases, recipients of a largesse earned by mere entitlement rather than effort or threat of force, their young faces costumed in ghoulish aspects of expectant greed.
No, this is not my favourite holiday. How could you tell?
But today is also Samhain, the dark twin of Beltane, sometimes known as All Hallow’s Eve — a night when it is said that the veil between the worlds of the living and of the dead is at its thinnest. Some say it is a night of unimaginable power. A night cloaked in mystery and pagan ritual, shrouded by superstition and fear. A night when the spirits of the dead roam freely among us, causing mischief and harm, unappeased by meager offerings and reined in only by the approach of dawn. Tales are told of incautious souls unwary enough to be lured by curiosity to the other side, and of those unfortunate few who do not make it back before night gives way to light.
As an antidote to the crass commercialism of the modern holiday, and just generally to cheer myself up, I tried to find a poem I could post here that would convey the dark eerie spookiness of the old pagan beliefs — that the threshold between the living and the dead is easily crossed on this night — but couldn’t find any that quite fit the right mood. So I wrote my own. I hope it’s as much fun to read as it was to write. May your Hallow E’en be a night of safe travels, one disturbed only by visitations of benign spirits.
come dance with me
they come in the darkest of night
afoot in the absence of light
the souls who have given the right
to waltz upon their graves
they come now to witness the dance
how fortune has done more than glance
and evil has won the last chance
the footprints on the graves
and oh how they quiver with fear
and how their own lives they hold dear
though fate never has been more clear
’tis written on the graves
the game has already been won
and night will give way to the sun
the lament of words left unsung
the keeper of the graves
they say ’tis sheer madness this night
awash in the absence of light
them link hands this unhallowed night
and dance upon their graves