Sunday, October 31, 2021

“October 31st” by Nicolette Vajtay


a hundred and twelve degrees

on October thirty-first

teen girls saunter

in skimpy costumes

while young boys kill them

with pistols full of tap water

a battery-operated fan

pushes heat-soaked molecules

over my daughter’s sweat-stained skin

I under an umbrella

thirsty for shade


my four-year-old grandbaby

only knows

only loves

the brilliant heat

she will never feel

a fall chill pinch her nose

or frost her breath

or hear

the crunch of fallen leaves

under her feet

rose red, plum purple, sunrise yellow, sunset orange

stunning carpets of death

littered on the sidewalks

nor claim her favorite smell

a tree

smoldering in a fireplace

red pimples erupt under my arms

detoxing the chemicals of Duraflame


in a bright pink two-piece bathing suit

the color of summer

cinched at the waist with a bushel of tulle

my grandbaby twirls and leaps in the sunshine

through the sprinklers

that cool the Halloweener’s

the grass is never green anymore

her skin tinged by the sun

browned by evolution

so different from my

Swedish complexion

my light eyes

shielded by dark glasses

her black eyes

squint into slits

like a cat’s

she thrives

while I survive


chocolate offerings melt in the pillowcase

long before we rest again

in our air-conditioned home

candy corn hurts my teeth

but she’s happy

like I was when I was four

celebrating all hallows eve

with beef stew and hot chocolate

today we’ll sip iced tea

dip carrots and cucumbers into hummus

and suck on popsicles


none of us will sleep

my grandbaby hyped on sugar

me tossing and turning

afraid that next year

there won’t be a day of dress-up

or candy

or cool water that spills from sprinklers

just the ghosts of Halloweens past

haunting the blistering streets


Nicolette Vajtay received a BFA in the Performing Arts at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and then went on to a yearlong acting Apprenticeship program with Actors Theatre of Louisville, in Kentucky, and completed her graduate studies at Harvard University, in a conservatory program with The American Repertory Theatre Company.  

Acting turned into writing in 2003; she has penned 17 titles including two full-length plays, many one-acts, a handful of ten-minute plays, and her first novel. She is exploring poetry and the short story now and lives in Denver, Colorado.

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.


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