A Halloween Poem

Author:
Publish date:

I love Halloween in a big way, and I don't even mind how gory it's become over time. There's something healthy about confronting mortality, laughing in the face of death and its brutalities, and flirting with some of life's darker mysteries (whether we actually believe in ghosts and spells or not).

The poem below is about an incident that happened to my cousin exactly 40 years ago last week. Eleven years old, he was goofing around on his bicycle, showing off for a girl in his class, when he hit an uneven patch of pavement and shot over the handlebars and landed in a way that caused severe internal injuries.

Things were a little uncertain for my cousin for a few days. They took out his spleen and later had to remove one of his kidneys. He was in the hospital for weeks. I was thirteen that autumn and shaken by the possibility my younger cousin could die. "Haunted" is one way of describing my feelings, which stayed with me over the years. Later, my aunt confided how the accident had haunted her, and the poem tells the story from her viewpoint:

Image placeholder title

You catapulted toward death
over butterfly handlebars,
on an afternoon of smoldering leaf piles,
cornstalks painted on the bakery windows.
We got the news that evening
just as a storm arrived to bear you away
on blasts that made the trees toss
like keening women. The first bolts crackled
as your mother headed home from the hospital.
Confronting her was the skeleton
she'd hung on the front door that afternoon.
It grinned with a phantom cackle,
flapping its cardboard bones
while you lay endangered
in intensive care, your pumpkin-
round cheeks highly colored,
a triangle of flame in each eye.

You survived that night,
although you lost the damaged kidney,
shrivelling in your recovery
like a hollowed gourd.
Your mother later said
she neither cried nor prayed,
but swept the house
of those emblems of death
and malicious spirit. To this day
she has no fondness
for the hallowed eve, for the
snaggle-toothed deity
who stared her down.

(from Clifton Magazine, (C) 1994)

Here's wishing you benign hauntings this Halloween.

--Nancy

Dyslexia Is a Writer's Superpower (With Help)

Dyslexia Is a Writer's Superpower (With Help)

Author PJ Manney shares how dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia should not be viewed as impediments to becoming a writer. Rather, they should be viewed as writing superpowers, especially when paired with certain technologies.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Falsely Accused

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Falsely Accused

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character get falsely accused for something.

By Any Means Necessary: Finding Unorthodox Ways to Break-In

By Any Means Necessary: Finding Unorthodox Ways to Break-In

Novelist D. Eric Maikranz gives advice for how to get your readers to sit up and take notice of your work in untraditional ways.

M.M. Chouinard: On Jumping From One Project to Another

M.M. Chouinard: On Jumping From One Project to Another

Novelist M.M. Chouinard immediately started writing her second book after finishing her first and shares here why that was the best decision she could have made.

How to Write a Eulogy When the Need Arises

How to Write a Eulogy When the Need Arises

While plenty of eulogies are delivered by a clergy member, the perspective provided by a close friend or family member can retell cherished memories of the deceased. If you find yourself needing to pen one, let this advice by Paul Vachon guide you.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 564

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a disappointment poem.

How to Approach Friends and Family About Your Memoir

How to Approach Friends and Family About Your Memoir

No one can decide whether showing your memoir to loved ones before it goes to press is the right choice for you. However, if you're planning to approach your friends and family about it, let memoirist Ronit Plank give you 3 tips for doing so.

Emily Henry: On Writing the Second Book

Emily Henry: On Writing the Second Book

Romance author Emily Henry describes the ups and downs of writing your second book, using her experiences writing her latest release, People We Meet on Vacation.