Children understand the true nature of Halloween, whether they want to or not.
by Nathan TerMolen
A magician this year, he creeps home.
Wand and stuffed rabbit
safe in his backpack under
a black cape flapping in warm wind.
Chocolate smudged on his white
dress shirt from one of those cupcakes
baked in an ice cream cone - they look so tasty but
the truth is choking-dry - not so cool
once the frosting’s gone.
The mauve faces of mums smile from
front porches where jack-o-lanterns
(now stashed in safe breezeways)
will greet night. The sun
full and happy - he sees
eclipse light - twisted, strange and bright.
All day long, from
the crossing guard to Old Ms. Williams,
raking her yard, those grownups don’t see
the thin, twisty line
between sunny afternoon
and devil Halloween.
He steps on no cracks, knows today
a flipped over flagstone shows a way
to goblin lairs. Piles of cheery yellow leaves
hold black-green tentacles just out
of sight in shadowed crannies.
Starlings don’t move like normal birds.
No hoppity sparrows, they walk like golems,
whir and chip like machines- wind-up minions
tracking movements. They’ll give the signal - take him!
Pale hands grab ankles from curbside drains.
He is careful. Safe.
Home, he passes through
the door. A dead
quiet house - feels the change before:
broken vodka bottle
tacky blood on the
floor those grownups don’t know.
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