augury doggerel

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Two Nights

Halloween doesn't exist here except as an excuse to be gaudy in a disco, but the kid, learner of English and the things done by its speakers, had carved and candled a pumpkin and now wanted to celebrate it. First the costumes. With her mother and grandfather as the audience, the kid and I dug through closets in the other room, then came out to show off our transformations: Eeyore tied to my head while I hid my face under a towel and she laughed. Eeyore tied to her head while she hid her face under a towel and I laughed. The kid as Tarzan with a scarf as loincloth, while I was Red Riding Hood maybe. The kid wrapped in a green towel and a string of Christmas lights, with me as the plugger in, but wearing a skirt and dancing a sort of cancan. Then off to her room. Jack burned on the window sill, I sipped tea and ate all the pistachios, and she wore toy antlers and danced and sang whatever words streamed through her head, something about the spirit of the mountains, the spirit of the feast day, and a conflict of good and bad ghosts.

Then Allhallows, All Saints' Day, the kid and I walked to the cemetery to see the candles at night. This was our real Halloween walk, the leaves and darkness and unusual crowds of people on the sidewalks at night. Business at the cemetery gate had grown: last year's hot dog truck was now four or five separate trucks serving whole chickens and grilled sausage, there were picnic tables, and someone was running a raffle. We went in and then up�the cemetery is a cleft in the wooded hills�up scary dark stone steps lit only by the candles on the graves, holding hands so we wouldn't lose each other. Jesus above a sea of candles. A clean, well-lighted grave for eight priests sleeping the last sleep together. A grave with no candle, just the size of a cradle, Alicja, 14 July 1973 � 15 July 1973. The kid told me: "So many people dead. But life is like that. For every one that dies, another one is born." We zoomed home alone along the sidewalk, singing a dozen variants of a silly song we had made up the day before.


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