Against the wind I thrust my face.
I stopped my steps and stood my place.
What was that in the darkened deep
That rose as if from out of sleep
And off and out of view did sweep?

This night was cold, the thirty-first.
October chill was at its worst
As if to prove, though at its end,
It still had force enough to send
All walkers back to fire and friend.

But I was out for mystery.
(And maybe it was out for me.)
Slower now, I resumed my stride
And came to a gate opened wide
With a graveyard asleep inside.

A fence about the holy ground
Assured that none escaped their mound.
And o'er the gate, the timeless clue;
"Death is a debt to Nature due.
As I have died, so, too, must you."

Into the yard I slowly crept
Convinced not all within there slept.
I turned full round to search the night
For any moving wisp of white
But none revealed itself to sight.

I read a stone, a name and date,
A slab of rock inscribed by Fate.
I read a second, larger stone
On which the moonlight squarely shone.
I gasped! I froze! It was my own.

There in letters, deep as the dead,
My name, my age, my life I read.
Then, suddenly, the town-bells rang,
A Chorus of Death, clang, clang, clang,
A count of twelve, the dirge they sang.

My pulse sped up. My heartbeat rose.
Ready for flight, my feet unfroze.
I turned on heal to steal away --
But the earth ‘neath my feet gave way.
I fell my length beneath the clay.

I cried a terrored scream so wild
The dead themselves would have been riled.
But one it merely caused to grin.
The wisp of white, with eyes of sin,
Hung over my grave, peering in.

I felt his stare remove my breath
And banish me to instant death.
The ghost to my side descended.
He smiled and said, "All is ended.
Your journey's through, fully wended."

He waved his hand to close the grave.
The earth responded to his wave.
But clumsy was this guide to Hell;
Some roof of earth on my eyes fell,
Broke his power and cut his spell.

I sprung alive and he stood still
In shock that he had lost his kill.
Through the partially open hole,
Where moonbeam sunk, I quickly stole,
I fled from Death to save my soul.

Through the earth the ghost rose, like Dawn;
The Chase of Life and Death was on.
Jumping gravestones like blades of grass
I flew as fast as Time does pass.
But Death kept hot pursuit, alas.

Between tree branches, right and left,
I wove my way with speed and deft.
They seemed like arms with swiping force
Trying to fell me in my course,
The way they fall a man on horse.

The ghost then shrieked in horrid voice,
"Your run is up. You've no more choice!”
I felt him near, a step behind,
His fingers in my sleeve entwined.
I felt my life on earth confined.

On the gate-road, all human haste
I summoned forth, no tithe to waste.
Closer and closer the gate drew.
The ghost roared -- I saw what he knew.
The gate was closed. My life was through.

Too quick I came upon the gate.
My eyes had pierced the dark too late.
One moment, now, before I crashed,
Before my brains were split and bashed
Upon the gate, my life then dashed.

The ghost upon my sleeve still clung.
The crash from matter, spirit wrung --
And I awoke out on the street,
The gate still closed, intact, complete,
And I in mystery at my feat.

How had I passed unscathed through steel?
Was I now something less than real,
Akin in substance to that ghost
Who fain would serve in Hell my host?
What of him, who can't die like most?

The Truth within some grave must lie.
I know it not nor seek to try.
I'll let it rest forever there,
Entombed by earth, a silent lair.
Of graves and ghosts I've had my share.

Suffice to say, I've had it taught
There's more to earth than what we thought.
Man must take heed and not demean
The mysteries he has not seen.
They're all too true come Halloween.

© Kevin Thomas Sullivan

 

From Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
"Death is a debt to Nature due
Which we have paid and so must you."

~ Anonymous

 


Poem by Kevin Thomas Sullivan
 
Design by Christine M. Lemay and Kevin Thomas Sullivan