ON THE EVE OF WINTERSLEEP
The monster approaches the edge of the forest,
enveloped in the green.
He is covered in vines and moss, with arms and legs
bound thick with muscle and soil.
He is the keeper of these woods
and he is curious.
Running a cracked knuckle under his eye, he looks out over
the town nestled in the valley below.
Smoke rises from redbrick chimneys as the rusty October sky
fades to black, the sun burning out behind the mountains.
Glowing embers in the town catch his eye, like the odd lights on the
peat-bogs deep in his woods.
The monster has wondered often about the creatures below,
watching them scurry from one place to the next, and
the strange rituals they carry out year after year, when
the leaves turn orange and fall to the ground, when
the temperature cools and the trees begin their slow descent
The house-dwellers trade in their skins for faces of bone,
horns protruding from their heads, adorned with
forked tails, long noses and branches hanging from their backs.
They wear dark smudging with white eyes and walk the streets
of their town, chiming in unison for all manner of things.
The monster walks slowly down the hillside,
Leaving the protection of his forest,
the vines entwining his arms and legs
stretching back towards the woods,
but the creature plods on,
his curiosity drawing him down.
Dark houses line either side of the street.
The monster lets out a long, steamy breath, musty with the smell
of swampland and quagmire.
He is wary.
He turns and sees a glowing face staring down at him from a ledge above,
A leering smile with
sharp, thickset teeth
and wide, burning eyes.
He is bewitched.
As he continues down the paved road,
glowing faces peer down at him from
windows, rocking chairs and porch-ledges.
They grin with fire-faces,
gargoyles awaiting the midnight hour.
Entranced by their wicked grins
He hears the notes of a song, carried softly on the wind.
It is hazy, spiced with dark secrets and mischief.
The lanterns sing of graverobbers,
Skeletons with winged feet and old names,
A city deep beneath the black mountains
and the burial place of the Devil’s first love.
The monster, hearing their song
dances in the street,
singing the slaughtered pumpkin waltz.