by Liz Bennefeld
At Allantide the young girls sleep,
an apple beneath each pillow,
dreaming of their love to be.
At Allantide I sit awake, apple in hand,
waiting for the dear, sweet Allan of my dreams
to come again and dance underneath the moon,
orange above, amid dry barley propped up in sheaves.
Bones rattling, he takes my hand.
We spin across the threshing floor in tight embrace.
He promises, this Allantide . . . or maybe next,
Only a ghostly apple will sit upon a pillow
not dented when I can no longer stay awake.
Face matching his, I’ll dance a final song with him,
And then we both can sleep.
– Elizabeth Bennefeld, © 5 Oct. 2007 [Written for the Science Fiction
Poetry Association’s 2007 Online Halloween Poetry Reading Web page (MP3 available at SFPA)]
Note: When writing a poem for publication in SFPA’s second annual Halloween Poetry Reading, I decided to explore other seasonal celebrations taking place at the same time of the year as our Halloween celebration. I came across a description of the Cornish celebration, Allantide (Wikipedia article), that takes place on October 31st.
My poem centers on the Apple Festival, in which Allantide apples were given to family members and friends as “tokens of good luck”. “Older girls would place these apples under their pillows and hope to dream of the person whom they would one day marry” (Wikipedia).
My husband’s name being Allan, I thought about how I might feel at such a festival if I were a widow, with that Allantide apple somehow creating a joining between myself and my husband on that last evening before winter’s cold sets in.