Listening to every heart
One Hallowed Eve’s Story
One Hallowe’en in years gone by, let’s see, October ‘68
I was too big a little kid, and to a costume, couldn’t relate.
I informed the folks [told, not asked] that I would be the one
to stay at home, hand out treats, watch the others have the fun.
Besides, I had an long essay to write, one for English lit
if it was not in by next Monday, my teacher’d have a fit!
So I was quite set, and sent everyone on their way
feeling fully grown up was I, that’s all I have to say!
But in ‘68 at age 16, I was not without a little prayer
for someone to watch over me, and went to the record player
to turn on some noise, and fill the quiet of the living room
to help dispel night’s ghostly shadows, and chase away any gloom.
Then I popped some pop corn, and looked out into the night
not seeing any dressed up kids, hum, it didn’t seem just right;
but oh well, they’d be here soon, so on it I didn’t think
and to the living room I went, with my treat and drink.
Nestled on the living room couch, my book upon my lap
working hard on my essay, didn’t want to sound like a sap;
when once, then twice, the lights flickered off and on
startled me, then the record player seemed to lose its song...
The needle on it lingered, slowly the song droned out,
then in total darkness I sat! but Father, though not about
being the kind of guy good in emergencies, left a light
so I grabbed the flash, and went to look out at the night.
The streets were darker, there were no porch lights on
and of course it was strange and disturbing to look upon;
stranger still, no folks about, no little ones tricking for a treat
no costumed ghosts floating by, I was all alone on this street.
Checked the locks, bolted the door, I didn’t care any more
if there were folks out there, I wasn’t answering the door.
Suddenly at 16, I felt quite young, little, filled with fear,
but I was resolved, determined, not to shed a single tear!
Quickly I lit many candles, and breathed thanks for same,
promptly I was feeling fear, and of course some mingled shame.
That I’d be scared of a little dark, there, alone by myself;
so I lit more candles, placed them carefully on mantle and shelf.
Gathering my waning courage, I went back to couch and books,
shook myself a little, said, “Courage!” and then took a look;
saw myself in the mantle’s mirror, looking strange in candlelight;
looked as if I had seen my ghost, gave myself a vicious fright!
“Ok, Ok, you’re not here all alone” and looked for my canine pet;
but he was no where to find, then remembered, “he’s at the vet’s!”
So truly I was all alone, my nerves they began to fray;
and a mind, being what it is, began to wonder if I would ever see day!
So childlike was I in silly fear, I went back and sat upon the couch,
took my book with flashlight, nestled in, then said quite a loud “Ouch!”
for I sat upon my own pen, it stuck me forcefully in my derriere
‘course, I said some other words, but they’re not appropriate here.
Ok now, I think you can see, candlelight and flashlight flickering keen,
throwing shadows all around, I think you can imagine the scene;
alone, alone, and scared was I, waiting for a sound or bump in the night,
my mind taking off on images of imagined fear and flight.
Time seemed to have stopped, my breathing loud, laboring so,
when suddenly from the corner of my eye, came a different glow.
Behind the curtains, a small waver of someone’s breathe it seemed,
the curtains fluttered as the movement, then came my startled scream
for the movement came on closer, coming closer to where I sat
and I had no place to run, when suddenly all I saw was my pussycat!
Then without warning to my surprise, lights came on, the player started again
someone was banging on the door, my heart leaped up and then
little goblins, little ghosts come for treats, amid lots of giggling and reverie
My family...everything back as it was...and nothing was changed...but me.
31 October 1999
Look, then, into thine heart, and write ~~~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow