Saturday, October 29, 2011
The Feast of Souls
when shadows of the past collect in pools
of memory, where lost loved ones cluster
clamouring for their share of living warmth,
clustered at the door jamb or window pane.
Running home, the children flee the grey cloak
of year’s eventide, when the black sow comes,
snuffling and squealing from each bush or tree,
learning the meaning of that mortal fear
that lies pushed out of sight by young and old.
Once, fishermen knelt in the flooding tide
and made offerings of ale to Poseidon,
master of the storm whose season had come,
praying for a fruitful catch in the year
just begun, and protection from the sea.
But fire and merriment outdid their fears
as chiefs and local kings gathered to drink
and feast the fateful evening to its end,
and herald the coming of the new year,
when bonfires would blaze briefly on the hills.
Candles, those symbols of the soul, flared bright
as processions of the faithful passed by
the windows of the fearful safe inside,
but soon devils came knocking on the door
demanding payment of cakes or sweetmeats.
The fear of death now generally allayed,
we sit content before our blazing screens,
quite unafraid of the year's dark season,
happy remembering ancestral fears
as entertainment and the joy of youth,
yet knowing that the month of blood will come.