Thursday, November 5, 2009


Most people deliberately ignore the first garbage day after Halloween. They keep their jack o' lanterns on the front porch or front steps for at least a week into November, maybe more. I see these pumpkins, big, small, squat, narrow, grinning, scowling, lining our street. They look a little uneasy. Not as sure of their credentials, maybe. They're October guys in a land of colder, fewer, plainer, darker. Holding themselves like soldiers from a dispersed army. Waiting for something to happen.

We have one carved and one uncarved guy sitting together on the white porch railing of our two-family house. The carved one is taller, his smile turning soft and inward. He looks like he'd nervously talk all night, worrying about being spoiled by rot, or crows, or skunks, or bad weather, or just the unknown. The other one would not reply, of course. Eventually, maybe on the 10th or the 17th, it will be time to place him on top of the trash container. From guy to garbage. Seems cruel. But maybe a raccoon will dislodge him in the wee hours and he will roll down Allen Street and across Mass. Ave, and keep rolling to Linwood, which really does slope, so down he'd tumble, kersplash, into Spy Pond. Where he'd float with the currents and wash up on the shore of Elizabeth Island, befriended by squirrels, ducks, and jays. Or else the garbage truck will take him away after all and he'll ponder the meaning of November as squash in some landfill. So it goes.

Speaking of guys, today is the day of Guy Fawkes, who is burned in effigy on Bonfire Night in Britain and other places. That's the Guy who gave us the word guy (originally meaning "an oddly dressed chap" after the effigies). Today is one of the remembering days of November, even if it's to remember a plot to blow up the British Parliament buildings in 1605. Or as John Lennon sang: "Remember ... remember ... the fifth of November! (KABOOM!)"

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