Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scaring up a poem for the holiday

Firmly believing that there's nothing to fear but our fearful selves, I wrote this frightful attempt at an homage to Edgar Allen Poe a couple years back.

I hope it doesn't scare anyone away from this site. (Image at left from the painting Wheat Field with Crows by Vincent Van Gogh ... click to enlarge it)

By Francis Scudellari

Shallow breathing haunts me, trails me,
Seeks me out as I wonder, wander room to room.
A constant companion, never leaving my side.

Even now, sitting alone, turning dusty pages,
I hear the rasp; feel a cold wisp tickling my ears.
An icy finger traces a line up my back, my neck.

As my scalp tingles, my shoulders shudder,
I look around at the book-lined walls,
I search the cobwebbed corners, seeing no one.

Yet it's there -- peering through me, past me,
as I read, keeping pace, mouthing the words.
A presence waiting, watching, wanting.

Untouched by hunger, by thirst, I read on, half aware.
Gripped not by fear, but curiosity;
Distracted by the pulsing mist that caresses my neck.

Darkness spreading, not tired, but heeding time,
I climb the steps. A creak below, behind, following,
I close the door quickly to keep it out.

Inside, I open the window, allowing my thoughts escape.
Unsettled, I stare at the moon's down-turned face.
The chill air creeps in, flows over my bare feet.

The touch of an alabaster skin, ghostly, blankets me,
Like frost spreading slowly o'er the browning grass,
Enveloping the ever firming earth below.

My troubled mind, unable to push out the thoughts,
or dislodge the shaded images of the past,
follows the moon as it traces its lonely arc.

Tilling the field of a thousand lights near and far,
A wakeful dream, as the hours pass and sky brightens.
Distant hills reddening in glad welcome of the sun.

Dragging my body, now so weighted with age,
With care, with resignation, I pass back out,
Through the threshold, toward the glassy tiles.

I dip my cupped hands into the tepid water,
and splash my creased face, the unsalted drops
finding paths down my cracked cheeks

Raising my head, reaching for the cloth, I see it
Hovering, reflected, a vague shape behind.
I return to the basin, splash my eyes once more.

The features grow sharper. The form more distinct.
Each time I look, I see it more clearly,
Sensing, then knowing whose young eyes these are.

My eyes, my mouth, my nose but many years younger.
Facing up, I stare at it, it at me. A tear drops,
Down my cheek, his cheek, our cheek.

And then I, we fade away.
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