As we enter the final stretch of our celebratory year at Literary Mama, we begin to think of the fall and its festivities, particularly the spooky ones. Costumes, candy, and chaos are part of the mothering adventure. We’ve selected some Halloween-related content from our archives to celebrate two decades of the fun and fear that mothering entails.
In Good Faith: Halloween in a Foreign Land | Mother City Mama Oct 2011 | Katherine J. Barrett
Spiderman poses in red sunglasses and flannel cape, one finger planted up his nose. Our resident clown sports knock-off Birkenstocks and some serious attitude. Superman wears blue rubber boots and a bodysuit with reinforced seams. He presses a polyvinyl jack-o’-lantern to his face. The snapshot captures our first Halloween in South Africa, our first Halloween at all, for Alex and Jon were only two years old, and Thomas had just turned four.
I knew the day was not widely celebrated in this country — no candies or costumes lined shop shelves — but I’d planned an evening with a new South African friend. Jan had two young sons, and a sister with school-age kids in the neighboring subdivision. They’d never trick-or-treated but were game to try. We drove between our three houses, collected a modest stash of treats, and called it a small but successful Halloween.
Haunting the Alley | Fiction Aug 2011 | Penny Perry
You stand in my kitchen and pull at my sleeves and dig at my pockets. “I’m hungry,” you cry.
I give you toast and jam but that’s not what you mean. You want me to be your mother.
Me? I have two children and a head that wants out of this kitchen life, this pointless cycle of egg-streaked dishes and armies of hungry ants. I’m tired of all the planning so we can pay our rent — cheese only on weekends, rice, potatoes, and beans every day, eating sandwiches and playing cards by candlelight some nights to cut down on the electric bill.
What do I want of you, Mario? Your dark eyes pleading. The distant eyes of a poet or a future murderer. You’re doomed. You think I don’t know that? And you know too. Not in words. But there is a dark certainty about you. Already you know you’re different. Set apart from my sons, your Gringo friends. Who are you to me? Someone else’s child. A shadow in my doorway.
Witch | Literary Reflections Oct 2008 | Sarah Gardner Borden
Last August, as my twelve-year marriage was falling apart, I went looking for the Little Witch books by Deborah Hautzig. I’d had witches on the brain lately. In her summer camp, my elder daughter was building a diorama of the Wizard of Oz, complete with tornado (wire operated by a crank), yellow brick road, poppy field, and ruby slippers. After my younger daughter and I dropped her off each morning, we’d cross a covered bridge to the wooded trails that backed Hamden’s Eli Whitney museum. There sat a tiny house used to store wood for projects such as the Oz operation. But Stella and I pretended that a little witch — a child witch, a nice witch — lived inside. We would knock on the door and wait, and then look up at the boarded windows.
Grasping at Ghosts | Poetry May 2004 | Ronda Broatch
She lights a stub of candle,
studies its slow burn and dissolve
into a brass bowl.
I watch her from the edge
of the kitchen.
It was the crackling that woke us,
roar of heat devouring cedar.
I took her from her crib, fled
down darkened stairs, out
to cool lawn, cold moon.