So every year, at Halloween, the world embraces darkness. In the West, we laugh about it and adore the most horrific costumes and the most murderous, blood-soaked movies in the growing pornography of death, as my wife describes it.
And while my kids have done their share of Trick or Treating, and I’m not a hard-nosed, Southern Baptist, anti-Halloween guy, I am puzzled by the way we seem to assume that the power of evil is so great. Even as we, as a culture, desire safety and peace, love and acceptance, hope and long life, we bow at the altar of terrible things in our films, shows and culture…and celebration.
So I’ve been playing with this idea and put it into a kind of free-verse poem. Excuse me, as I’m not trained as a poet.
The Halloween Battle
Though no one could see them,
the forest burst with dark spirits;
the Banshee wailed and the dogs howled
as even owls hid their great, glowing eyes beneath
soft wings in windswept, leaf-bare trees.
They streamed to the vast house,
full of holes for spirits and creatures,
night-loving, dark-seeking things that adored
creaking porches and swaying, finger-like trees,
reaching, reaching for children on the walk.
Children there were, bright-eyed, grasped
tightly by light-wielding mothers and fathers,
alert, even in these late ages, for things their sires
spoke of only in hushed tales around bright fires;
knowing that evil things love their single night of praise.
Unseen by dim-witted moderns, only felt at the nape of the neck,
or in goose-bumped, hair-raised flesh;
dark, unspeakable shapes wove along the walks
looked in windows, hovered over roof-tops, climbed lattices,
pointing down at the innocent parade below.
In dark caverns candles were lit, spells read,
And from empty wells, crumbled graves, things emerged;
All about the silent scream of the unleashed
heard only by highest saints and deepest sinners,
as the educated skipped along in blind collusion.
The mass of dark things, hungry, constrained, probed
the wall between realms, stretched and scratched,
salivating for the fear it could unleash once more
on men and women who knew (they thought)
everything there was to know.
But just before, just before, Emmy Pitts, age four,
saw Mia Perkins, (fresh from invoking darkness ’round a pentagram);
Saw that she knelt over Pepper her black cat,
struck by a car full-of costumed creatures with candy,
and she saw Claudette weep hot tears into the black fur.
At the height of the creeping, sneaking, howling, growling,
wind-snuffed candle, soul-stealing, moon-dimmed night,
Emmy asked, ‘can I pray for your kitty cat? I’m so sorry!’
Wrapped fair, innocent limbs around dark-hearted mourner
on the cool, candy-littered asphalt of Halloween night.
Heavenly host burst forth from the throne room of the King;
from horizon to horizon stars flared up and the moon
burned clouds away; the breeze blew warm. Caverns were sealed,
cages locked, passages shut and hearts lightened. The things of the dark fled
in terror, and in envy of the light as from the beginning.
No human saw but Emmy and Mia; saw that
the battle ended in an instant. Mia set free
as dark things fled and Pepper breathed once more.
Emmy, duly dressed as angel, skipped away nonplussed.
Mia stroked Pepper and pondered these things in her heart.