Narrated by Patricia Williams
I’ll tell you a tale of Hallowmas time, a triduum marking the Days of the Dead,
three days of petition for the faithful departed; a time when the liminal veil
linking material realm to the hereafter, thins; perilous dates when worlds clash
under skies colored like ash from cremains;
when trees moan and hedge-borders whisper, when believers pray loudly
while walking near woodlands, to calm their fears, soothe the souls of the dead;
when night ravens, messengers of Odin, call to the shades of worthy men,
in a world where reason and myth collide.
A crew sailed from home one September, a month before Hallowmas time.
Lost in yawning fjords where snow clouds converge, they steered hot-tempered seas
with ruinous currents, faced vicious gusts that drove down from the foothills,
screaming like squalls on a Patagonian plain.
On the Eve of All Hallows, last day of October, first day of the Hallowmas trine,
they entered emptiness soaked in shadow, pierced stillness on satiny water;
continued adrift on November the first, Feast of All Saints, second Hallowmas day,
crossing boundaries, almost unnoticed.
On the Day of All Souls, November the second, third day of the Hallowmas trine,
a day of purple for those departed but not yet free of sin, booming movement
spanned the sky at home port; wolves howled and woeful moans sounded,
bells tolled for the restless dead.
The ship’s logbook surfaced in the waters of home port; last entry had four words
recorded that motionless morning – the veil is lifted – sole trace of them
ever uncovered, the end of their odyssey untold, a story in memoriam,
met through the murmurs of ravens.
Dies irae, dies illa ………… dona eis requiem*
* 13thC mass for the dead: Day of wrath and doom……Grant them rest
BIO: Patricia Williams, professor emerita, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, taught art and design for 35 years. Art, design, poetry and creative prose, she feels, are natural partners, their work being the creative examination of life and living. Her poetry appears online and in print journals and anthologies in the U.S. and U.K. including Camel Saloon, Silver Blade, Star*Line, Poetry Quarterly, Stoneboat, Inquisitive Eater (New School), Fox Cry, Red Booth, Third Wednesday, Negative Capability Anthology, Midwest Prairie Review among others, and was nominated for 2014 Best of the Net. She belongs to the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.