Housesitting on Halloween


Spanish spills out of windows and tiny shouts fill the street.
Little cowboys raise their guns to our heads
as we sit on your doorstep, our hands up,
pleading that we have nothing more to give.

“There’s not too much left,” the old man told us
as we passed through the corner store that night.
We’d waited too long, but it was important —
suddenly, it was incredibly important we keep the light on.

The heavy bowl we fill together,
you carry alone down the steps,
your knuckles white from the weight.  

We watch the procession of monsters, tired mothers,
The kids too old to still be doing this sort of thing.
The small hands make short work of us,
reaching out in the dark for more than they can hold.

Thomas McDermott