Samhain Invocation (full poem) -- GOG's Samhain 2011

For Samhain 2011 (Last Samhain Before Texas)

by Nora

Going into the night, I think of the dawn:
How even in New Jersey, the morning smells of loam
And all the Earth has eaten -- here in New Brunswick,
Three centuries of beer and blood and ashes, garden refuse
And the smooth, rich must of the season's fallen:
Water still clinging to Miss Havisham's grass,
Shivering in its autumn rags; sleepy leaves not yet
Harassed by bursts of hot fuel-scented wind;
Bodies of unmourned animals caught too thin
By the first real frost of the year. My grandmother
Is in that scent. Our friends, our family: the ones we tried
Not to dwell on, not to let ourselves talk about too much
One day they burst from our mouths, from our memories.
Tonight we will read their names, reach into the dark
Loam and pull out its richness, hold it before our faces and
Breathe deep, and know that we still breathe.

On the path to dawn, I think of the night:
How even in the midst of friends, the present stretches
Blindly forward and the hours all unspool -- here in
Warm. lit spaces, we tell our memories; our friends,
Our family, and all that has shaped our names to the faces
We wear when no one's looking, or when they all are.
And even this night is an untold story, a choose-your-own
Adventure that we, the living, read in the hours of the dead.
My heart is in that story. Sleeping faces, raucous jokes:
The ones we try not to laugh at, swear we won't pick up
One minute they burst from our lips, from our slowing minds
In whooping cackles that reach into the dark
Exhaustion and haul it up in ragged autumn breaths
That wrack us deep: and then we know that we breathe.

Going into the now, I think of the dawn and the night again:
How in every place we find the deepening dark, we run to
Burning filaments of metal, or waxed cloth, or our own veins
Incandescing in the dark that we control behind our eyes;
And in the bursting hours, our friends, our family --
The living and the fallen, all the Earth has eaten
Or will eat, floats rag-light in autumn's memory-scented
Air and tells a story, just one true story woven of
Loam and reminiscence and breath and laughing faces:
How we will come through this night into inevitable
Dawn, and waiting dark again, every hour a threshold

(c) 2011