A Spirited Soul

If I were 9-years-old, and living in the Dominican Republic, and my grandmother’s cackles were still bettering the world of the breathing… Then today, my face would be painted gray with ashes and my eyes encircled black with coal, until I resembled a calavera (or skull). We would dress my grandmother’s cross in brightly colored crêpe paper; we would cook sweet beans; and we would tell forever-living tales of our dead. The celebration would be nameless, but every heart and soul—young and old—would know what today was called.

But I’m 38-years-young and living in New York City. So my family and I will spend the day cooking… Then tonight, we’ll carve pumpkins, share a yummy meal, and tell tales of our dead. My cyber-home always partakes in the partying, so I’ve crafted a Halloween(y) haibun for you:

“A Spirited Soul”

I visit the place nearly never. It’s too dark… too many bones… too much death for a spirited soul; except on the day before All Hallows… when with pumpkin chili, rice, rum, Bachata music and belly laughs, my blood celebrates my life.

bare branches rustle
food and song in the graveyard—
to honor the dead.

.
Inspired by “The Dead”, winner of From Blackout Poem Bit to Flash Fiction or Full-Length Poetry, 4; and linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Flash 55.

If you celebrate this witchy holiday, then Happiest Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, Dia de los muertos, Samhain… and if October 31st holds little or no meaning for you, then Happiest Day.

A Spirited Soul

13 Kisses in the Dark

She thought it impossible to love anyone more than she loved her magic. Then he said, I’m yours—and meant it—and impossible was nevermore.

“I let them take you. I knew, and I still let them.” The dirt that had sucked her lover’s screams felt cold against her wet cheek. “I wish I could change it. I would give everything I am for a chance—” The idea hit her so abruptly that it was as if it had been born in someone else’s head.

Fueled by desperate hope, she took the shape of a white hare and ran to the Crafter’s cottage.

.
“It’s not wise to walk these woods in your fur,” the Crafter said, without looking away from the parchment he was working on. “They’ve been felling trees and turning stones looking for you.”

Crossing the Crafter’s threshold and resuming her human shape, she said, “Can you write my husband out of wherever they’re imprisoning him?”

“I can write anyone anywhere, my girl. But—”

“I’m with child. I know they’re keeping my husband alive to use his magic to rip our babe out of my wound as soon as she’s big enough to breathe on her own… That’s in three nights.”

“They will track you, my girl.”

“Not if you write us into a story your masters will never read.”

The Crafter put down his quill. “Crafting a story world takes weeks.”

“What about that one?” She pointed at the scribbling-covered parchment in front of the Crafter.

He shook his head. “This is a place for punishment, a place where… they hurt people like us.”

“My husband and I will shield our child. We’ll do anything for her. That’s what parents are supposed to do. But I was wrong to expect—”

“They will burn you alive, in this story world,” the Crafter yelled, hurling his quill against a wall.

“We can hide,” she said. “You became slave to people you despise, so those you love could live. My husband and I would give up our magic to protect our child.” She put a hand on his shaking shoulder. “No story world can be too terrible, if we get to be together and alive, Father.”

“They will force me to tell them where I wrote you,” he said.

“I’ll drink your memory of me,” she said, placing a dusty tin cup on the table.

.
By the sounds of quill and kettle, the Witch brewed a forget-me tea, and the Crafter wrote his daughter and her family into a story world where the wrongs of magic were made right by fire.

.
She poured the tea in the cup. He handed her the parchment with the words she would need to escape their world. His face was warm and wet with tears, when she put her hands on his cheeks and began to chant:

Thirteen kisses in the dark,
they’ll taste of moon full
and of sun-bright;
thirteen touches of my lips,
they’ll make me yours
and keep you mine.

Thirteen kisses in the dark,
they’ll bring oblivion
and memory seep;
thirteen touches of my lips,
in your mind I’ll be nothing
after this sleep.

He slumped forward the thirteenth time she kissed his temple, sipping his last memory of her. Gently, she laid his head down on the table and watched him through blurry eyes until each line of his face was branded in her heart.

They had agreed to leave the empty cup on the table and some forget-me tea in the kettle. His masters would find him spelled, and realize he didn’t remember her. And they would never hurt him; not when he was the only living Crafter, and the other one was unborn and lost to them.

.
Inspired by “13 Kisses”, winner of From Blackout Poem Bit to Flash Fiction or Full-Length Poetry, 3; and linked to Vanessa Valencia’s Witches Tea Party. Fly over to A Fanciful Twist and see what everyone else is brewing. Oh, and beware of tin tea cups… you know, just in case.

Tin Tea Cup, from Analogue Lifevia

Red City Barn

Incessant,
the serenata of engines
rolling down and up Broadway
lulls me from sleep;

except on Friday nights.

At the dawn of each weekend,
the commuting symphony
is accompanied by duets
(and trios)
all pissed off and calling for blood,
a cappella.

How I long for the song of island winds…

“Bitch!
You knew he was with me.
But tramps only care for themselves.”

“I didn’t know.
Do I talk like an ignorant tramp?
Do I dress like a tramp?
No, that’s you.”

“You two deserve each other.
I hope he treats you real bad
and screws you worse.”

How I long for the song of Caribbean crickets…

When the concerto
of cars and buses and drunk romance
gets too loud, I change direction.

I place the lively pub patrons at my back
and focus on the redemption
of my bit of city:

for even on the darkest of nights,
I can see the barn through trees and shadows,
conjure up the red of its walls,
and feel the gaze of horses
widening the grin on my face.

I will always long for the song
of island winds,
of Caribbean crickets,
of a palmwood cottage
settling for the night…

But while I’m grinning at my Red City Barn,
the longing is just bittersweet nostalgia,
for childhood songs now gone.
.

for Dee

linked to Sanaa’s Prompt Nights, A Cup of Nostalgia

in Poetry Jam,
Brian Miller wanted to know a secret
that made my city special

Red Barn

???????????????????????????????

Red Barn Gate