Another All Saints Day

The mouldy jack-o-lantern already trashed,

the excess candy optimistically hidden away,

the two smiley-faced ghosts still flutter about

in the cold breeze of morning punctuated

by birdsong too cheerful for a dirge.

 

Halloween’s a big deal here, though seldom

a serious one, with candy bags and fancy-dress

(admittedly fetching on small boys and girls,

but somehow rather sad when sported

by adults carousing drunkenly through the night,

drinking too much pumpkin ale as the children

gorge on candy and pass out into sickly sleep),

and from time to time, a report of genuine

devilry spoils the holiday for all, mostly

it’s all good, sugar-rushing fun.

 

Given the holiday’s origins, though, I can’t

help wondering how literal the epic battle is,

whether good and evil warriors roam about

for real on the eve of the commemoration

or inhabit only the landscape

of a convenient mythology.

 

And, watching the cheap cloth ghosts

swirling around on the porch in the aftermath

of the secular party night, on the morning-after

of the feast day that never seems like one,

I wonder whether the spirits of saints and martyrs,

and of the ordinary dead, the friends and family

that we miss, daily circulate unseen among us,

re-entering this world at the point where

my theology and my skepticism collide.

 

Though I find it difficult to believe they do,

along with their companion devils,

I burn some incense just in case

and think fondly of them.

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

 

 

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