Slice one in half, the cliff edge
cleanness of the cut; slice it again,
each piece the thin end of the wedge.
We built a pile built to topple:
snaggers to us, not neeps or swedes,
all stolen from the fields, their purple-
reds as brutish as the farmer’s face
if he’d caught us. The shed was stuffy
with the smell of tar, a hiding place
a single bulb brought closer
in around us. I liked the smell of them
at Halloween, the long, black smoulder
when they got too close to the candle.
They were the autumn, the dark, rooting
nights before the winter. Perfect, purple
bowls, as heavy as conclusions in my
hand, and wilful that night in the shed,
defeating every effort to stack them high,
rolling woefully away across the floor.
No pumpkin buffoon would do for us.
We scalped our snaggers, scooped out the core
and fashioned offerings to the old gods.
I can still feel the weight of one, a heavy bonce,
how the mulberry coloured birthmark showed
through, the sickly-sweet smell of burning flesh;
how, disembodied, it became ominously
more than itself – nightmare clown, omphalos.
Next morning I lifted the lid on one cold clod
and found it bombed out, the candle fused.
Now we were both smoke damaged goods.