What does it mean to be not yet final.
It means afternoon. You’re in your room.
The décor’s a shade grown-up,
only a Raggedy Ann relic of childhood,
X’es for eyes. What does it mean to be final,
is it the same as being first. It means
we know each other, I’m a conspirator,
I’m here and can’t get through to you,
like the grown-ups in the town,
the unpictured ones who trust you, leaving
with you the children for the night.
Why are the trees in the town
like, I don’t know, so… California-green
the last day of October in Ohio.
And the children who have comic books
called Laser, Tarantula, Neutron,
all -Men in the titles.
Afternoons in your world—
no, an hour or two,
blue hour answering a beige phone,
and an orchid’s jaws, and pinned
racist sheets bending in wind,
and Mr. Riddle, 87,
or a bogeyman, age unknown,
spying from a yard.
No posters of Blue Oyster Cult
or Kiss for you, only a straw sunhat on a wall—
relic of childhood, sunhat of dotage.
And the sun not taken (I don’t know
if that’s the word) in the same way
when you’re final, when you’ve taken
that final you haven’t studied for (who could),
where black clothing draws the sun to it
and the mourners’ clammy hands.
You—I’m sorry—yes—we can be grateful
the room isn’t that world, not the earth
in Geography whose plates shift without warning.
There are mourners in sunlight
who talk to themselves, I think
that is what the final ones do,
you will do it too, without warning.
And the underworlds entering objects—
the jangling phone, the bed ghosts
clamped down by wooden pins but twisting back
to the rope between trees…
The one good scare everyone deserves.
It’s not as early now. It’s all in your head
and it’s in the world too.
Friends be mortals. Ambulances be known.
Is it early, is it dusk,
is there a blue hour in Haddonfield?
Sounds like a nuthatch—Linda said once—
Knives only for preparing food.
No running forward or back—for any of us.
No running even for the chummy names—
Linda and Annie and Bob,
Lindsey and Tommy,
the secret crush on Ben Tramer.
Final means not just the virginity.
You who chose the right relics—
the doll and the hat. You who’ll choose,
under the circumstances, cunning weapons.
No running for the math book forgotten
earlier at school—maybe you go back,
back for it yet but that part’s cut.
I’ll see the part I know by heart
where you’re alive, a walking heartbeat,
a heart beating in a ghost walking into
into morgues that were once bedrooms.
You have one or two things you need here.
In this room. Smooth the hair. Just calm down,
you tell yourself. Annie will be here.
The future can stay where it is
because it’s hungry, has a mouth I think,
for you, for you and I, for you and you and you—
the leaves in the sun too green for October.
And yes, you see—there’s something missing.
I mean another object. I mean a view.
You think it’s here—in a drawer. In your mind.
Annie will you pick up. Not only the doll
and the hat you’ll take with you.
An heirloom, maybe, in another room,
another October. Months that have a
knack of coming back. Losing everyone
it means. Something dull—no sharps allowed.
Spoon, guardian of a dumb function,
and held by the uniform feeding you,
mornings a cameo of milk
coming toward the mouth, the spoon handle
embossed with its impossible flowers.
Something dull and blue, a pill
borrowed but really not meant to be lent at all.
The children you’ll have and you won’t have.
Take them with you. Annie will be there.
(after Halloween, 1978, dir. John Carpenter)