S. Blackthorn Riddle
In Which One Partakes in Their Own Disappearance on the Eve of Halloween
Soon I will slip into the time of apples
And costumed creatures gathering under street lamps
Counting the spoils of twilight’s bounty.
Damp dirt roads that lead to strange cottages
Where dark doorways alight by the flame-spirit
Of tallow candles and spectral visions.
Where I can fold myself into the dank mist
That welcomes me back like a cozy sweater, lost and then found.
The leaf-children will dance about me
And sing lullabies of olde
In the language of the sleeping trees—
They will twist
Lead me down—
Down beneath the pumpkin patch.
The town above will suffer the sweetness
Of popcorn balls and candy corn,
The heaviness of never knowing just where—
And every year my father, with his tired eyes and leathered skin,
Will pluck a gourd from the coiled vine
That grows beyond the village hedge—
To carve my likeness into its shriveled rind
And set it out upon the wooden steps—
A curious effigy to grief and sorrow
Keeping careful watch as children play.
For just as the hearth-fires of autumn retire
And the moon turns away from a dreaming world,
The wind will catch on that brown, withered mouth,
Whispering my name like a dirge in the night,
Dragging me back through the mist and the earth,
Down through the years, calling me home.
Author’s Comments: This piece is a love letter to Ray Bradbury’s own ineffable enthusiasm for the season of Halloween. I believe that his pumpkin-fire spirit matches my own, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was also inspired here to call the Faerie-creatures out of the wood to allow me to fulfill what I believe to be a common childhood dream of running away to someplace “other”, and watching the world from my secret place, the dark beauty and tragedy left behind in the absence of what the world knew of me.
S. Blackthorn Riddle is a devastatingly young freelance writer and forest-punk living on the outskirts of New York City with a menagerie of cats, a hoard of books, and all of his imaginary friends. You can find him on Instagram @blackthornriddle.
Editor’s Notes: Image credit goes to the book cover artist, by Joseph Mugnaini, for The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ee/d1/1e/eed11ee51eef3bfe312631be3411d3f3–halloween-trees-halloween-books.jpg