(pronounced Sow-en, Celtic Day of the Dead)
Eve of Samhain
the small house ‘grew’ smaller
—a funny phrase—
the house un-grew, I would say:
pulled in its square arms,
sucked in its gut,
refused to tidy itself
(so it smells a bit).
walk the length and breadth of it
— 2 steps by 2 steps—
yet all of you cram in,
your ephemerality causes the candle to gutter.
I remember you, I cry.
Isn’t that enough?
. . .
Nothing for it but to go out,
leave you to it,
you all know each other, I presume?
plenty of room in the bed (hah!),
at the stove,
up between the sea salt and the whiskey,
be my guests.
I’m for the rain,
the black bird threading the hedge,
that branch buttressing a be-jeweled Castle of Neith
—herself being Herself enthroned at the center—
I’m for the grass-flattened path where I walk
and re-walk and
I’m for getting wet
and more wet,
cold at the neck.
I can outwait you,
go ahead the place is all yours.
Early morning Samhain
You’re not here this morning—yet—I see,
I s’pose you are somewhere away, primping for tonight
in hopes of pixilating, perhaps, or
evanescing in the light of the prophesied Blue Moon.
So for now the house is mine again.
I latch the door behind me as I step forth with camera
intent on capturing the image of the spider.
the wind bufffets her in her Halloween web,
a leg changes position on the line,
look down to check the image,
she is gone,
another reminder of the hide-and-seekness
I hold my teacup to my breast while
I look up her names:
Neith, Inktoni, Uttu, Arachne, Minerva
grandmother, dream catcher,
Ehep—lowering the first people to earth on a strand of web—
Goddess of the Earth,
She gives me three words to hold in secret.
Every once in a while I look up
to catch a glimpse of you out the small wet window,
in the blown leaf
and I think,
I’m content with looking up spider names
You have returned I see
and set up a Big Screen in my heart
me in a blue windbreaker on Venice Beach, you in white,
‘socially distanced’ in today’s parlance,
self protection back then, the
magnetism whenever we got close
so intense I walked into walls,
you drove off.
two silly girls in Glastonbury,
one in a sweater of cardinal red,
one in blue,
standing on the Abbey grounds
under the Holy Thorn—
who took that picture, eh?
careening hell-bent for leather
through midnight Canyonlands with the headlights out
so we could see the stars,
me hanging out the window.
Another of an old cowboy dancing
with his gal standing on his feet.
A kiss so hard it busted my lip.
and you again
and I issue a warning: only the good times
and we’re in the desert again,
on the lifeguard stand again,
reading a sex manual,
trying to see if we can get into the postures,
leaning against a fence in Foxen Canyon,
until the fence gave way.
And you, driving your black truck
along the coast road,
down into Mexico,
out to the Rez,
up to Death Valley,
homeward at 3 a.m.
crusted with salt or sand or red Navajo earth,
cruising into LA in time to get me to work.
And you and you and you.
I know you can keep these movies going all afternoon.
Nothing for it but to go out again
now the rain has stopped—
I don’t know if that is good or bad—
easier to blend in when it’s raining.
Tears, you know.
For some reason
I need to wash something;
I find three colored shirts I bought in
hang them out on the branches of a small tree where
they writhe and blow in the wind,
puff with the gusts.
S. comes down to say
‘You can put them in the dryer, you know’
and I say
I want to watch them,
they look like ghosts.
I’ve never done this alone,
set out a Dumb Feast
with food and drink for guests,
an extra setting for the beloved dead;
I spoon crème brulee
unearthed from the back of the fridge
into two bowls,
pour two half-glasses of cooking wine,
light a candle.
I know you’re all here, I say,
Hail and Welcome.
My words fall on deaf ears, hah!
the empty chair does not fill with you,
or any non-body,
and I try to maintain the ritual but my mind retreats
to the mundane,
to what to do with the food that you are not eating
…like a certain king, who made a marriage feast… and sent out his servants to tell those who were invited ‘Come. Everything is now ready’…but they would not come.
I clear the table,
leave one small candle to burn itself out in the night.
I clean house.