MAKING A JACK-O-LANTERN
A month ago was summer—now here we are
in the raunchy, roseate October sun
carving spooky faces in a pumpkin.
My daughter scoops a handful of the seeds
and weaves their stringy meat between her thumbs
pretending she’s a zombie, drunk on brains.
I laugh. She screams. Then wipes them on her jeans.
There is no trick-or-treating where we live
so we just populate the house with pumpkins,
the cobwebs on our ceilings real enough
we don’t need to invest in the fake stuff.
I miss the glimmering New England trees
radiating bloody palettes of red
splotching the landscape like a painted bed.
I’ve seen it happen in old calendars
and once or twice for real: one autumn day
some friends and I rented a station wagon
and drove up from New York to a state park
in the Hudson Valley—earnest, purposeful—
to see the glory of the altered leaves.
The four of us, clodhopping over boulders
in city clothes! We stopped on a country road
for apple cider, ecstatic as toddlers,
the hot perfume of clove and cinnamon
shocking our senses out of the humdrum.
I feel that energy again today
a surplus of oxygen to the brain
making us giddy, giving us rabbit feet,
steadying the staggering pulse, igniting the blood.
My daughter, too, is carving memories
into her hippocampus, so future-she
will rediscover them when apple-ripe.
They’ll give me back to her when I am gone
(nature’s only form of restitution)
as she regales her children with the time
their grandfather sang “Halloween Parade”
beneath the turning chestnuts, pocket-knife
in hand, and taught her how to pierce the taut
gold-orange flesh with its half-rusted blade.
Those beat-up white patent leather stilettos
she used to dance in before the revolution
were ziplocked as evidence by forensics
after the incident, leaving four dead and none wounded:
two bitchy step-sisters, a hypochondriac meth queen
and a serial date-rapist known to authorities as ‘Prince’.
Efforts to localize her have been unsuccessful
though she is rumored to be in possession of a samizdat
Handbook of Risk Mitigation. The Lost Boys, playing hooky
in Sherwood Forest, report they were hoarding when
the perp approached them. “She jacked our apple cart,”
one ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ stated off the record.
The victims are known to have been in cahoots
with the suspect via a series of heists going back
to the time of the VHS release of Toy Story.
The law firm Grimm & Grimm has published a statement
on behalf of their client: “Ms. Glassfoot denies all allegations.”
Funeral services will be held at King St. on Grassy Knoll
for friends and family of the deceased. By moonlight only.
Marc Alan Di Martino's work has appeared in Rattle, the New Yorker, Baltimore Review, Palette Poetry and many other places, and is forthcoming in the anthologies Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife and What Remains: The Many Ways We Say Goodbye. His first collection, UNBURIAL, will be published in 2020 by Kelsay Books. He currently lives in Perugia, Italy with his family where he works as a teacher and translator. Find him on: marcalandimartino.com, or on Twitter: @marcadimartino