Autumn Rites – Diane Funston

Autumn Rites
Diane Funston

Halloween brings back spirits of the past.
A yearly autumn rite of passage
where ghosts lead me back
to walk through streets of my childhood.
I willingly go back,
streets as familiar as my skin.
It was upstate New York
on crisp October days.

Smells changed along with leaf colors.
The old oil furnace woke from summer sleep.
It’s octopus arms of ducting
reached into rooms where no one slept,
where rest did not easily come
to those who sat up in the night
waiting for a sign of life
from spirits who still dwelled
in the century old houses.

The big kitchen oven came alive again
after summer heat and humidity
shut its doors for the season.
In autumn it’s wide mouth opened
to bake hearty meals and cookie treats
for kids to devour wholeheartedly.

The compost grew rich
over the season’s worth of kitchen scraps
that decayed and rotted into new soil.
We turned it over with the rusted pitchfork
and breathed in the fresh smell
of opened gardens, or perhaps graves,
almost awaiting the presence,
the feeling of long tendrils
reaching for our near-by necks.

Crunching through fallen leaves
the weather was damp, the sky heavy with clouds.
Maple leaves rained down
and shiny horse chestnuts cracked out
of green spiky shells for kids to collect.
Autumn, season of Halloween, season
of heavy scents and colorful leaves,
come, walk with me down foggy sidewalks.