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"'Twas the Evening of Samhain"

(A poem by Cather Steincamp. Reprinted by permission from the author. Copyright 1999 by Cather Steincamp. Visit his website HERE.)

'Twas the evening of Samhain, and all through the place,
There were Pagans preparing the ritual space.
The candles were set in the corners with care,
In hopes that the Watchtowers soon would be there.

We all had our robes on (with us it's habitual),
And had just settled down and were starting our ritual,
When out on the porch there arose such a chorus,
That we went to the door, and waiting there for us,

Were children in costumes of various kinds
With visions of chocolate bright in their minds.
In all of our workings, we'd almost forgot,
Though we'd purchased some candy (we'd purchased a LOT).

And so, as they flocked from all over the street,
They all got some chocolate or something else sweet.
We didn't think twice of delaying our rite,
Kids cannot have this much fun every night.

For hours they came, with the time-honored schtick
Of giving a choice: a treat or a trick.
As is proper, the parents were there for the games,
Watching the children and calling their names:

"On Vader, on Leia, on Dexter and DeeDee,
"On Xena, on Buffy, on Casper and Tweety,
"To the block of apartments that's just down the road;
"You'll get so much candy, you'll have to be TOWED!"

The volume of children eventually dropped,
And as it grew darker, it finally stopped.
But as we prepared to return to our rite,
One final child stepped out of the night.

She couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen.
Her hair was deep red, and her robe forest green,
With a simple gold cord tying off at the waist.
She'd a staff in her hand and a smile on her face.

No makeup nor mask, nor accompanying kitsch,
When we asked who she was, she replied, "I'm a witch.
"And no, I don't fly through the sky on a broom;
"I only use that thing for cleaning my room."

"My magical powers aren't really that neat,
"So I won't threaten tricks; I'll just ask for a treat."
We found it refreshing, so we gave incense cones,
A candle, a crystal, a few other stones,

And the rest of the candy (which might fill a van).
She turned to her father (a man dressed as Pan),
And laughed, "Yes, I know, Dad, it's past time for bed."
Then she started to leave, but she first turned and said,

"I'm sorry for further delaying your rite.
"Blessed Samhain to all   —   have a magical night !"