ALL HALLOWS

 

The inflatable ghost my neighbor has placed

on his front lawn has already done his job.

 

He startled me once in the moonlight, and now

I am ready to be done with him.

 

His wiggly fingers, his vinyl hide are no more

frightening than a Sunoco sign.

 

He’s not like the spider that drops beside my ear,

or the ominous creak of an empty chair.

 

But what do I know about the supernatural?

Maybe plastic and glitter can be just as haunted

 

as any Halloween cliché. And, I  do remember

the young man who appeared on my doorstep

 

one October evening, his grand cape floating

behind him, lifting in an imperceptible breeze,

 

and the little witch who appeared from nowhere.

I mean, No. Where. A small child, dressed in black,

 

unaccompanied on a moonlit night, her confidence

in our generosity so casual, so cheeky, that we

 

gave her everything we had and would have

given more, except she left just as she came,

 

unnamed, unannounced, her only protection her

naiveté and our reluctance to question her.                   

                

By morning the ghost will be nothing but a puddle,

his plastic smirk buried in the grass,

 

a sad reminder that everything can be deflated

in the light of day, and now I regret having

 

wished him ill. Who am I to prick the illusion,

to name the shades that honor the night,

 

especially here, in November’s first light, when

suddenly everything seems holy, cold and bare?

 

 

Cathryn Essinger is he author of three books of poetry—A Desk in the Elephant House from Texas Tech University Press,  My Dog Does Not Read Plato and What I Know About Innocence, both from Main Street Rag. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Southern Review, Antioch Review, and New England Review, among other literary journals.

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