On Halloween, every child has faith
that if they show up as a zombie or wraith
and say “Trick or Treat!” and hold out their hand,
that simply by making this threatening demand,
the folks will produce a sugary treat.
Then quick as a whip, they’ll make their retreat.
Impelled by the promise of one reward more,
they’re off to pound on another closed door.
Without maps, without compass, they’ll all zero in
on former houses where they have been
that give the best treats, like whole Hershey bars,
their parents all sitting, resigned, in their cars,
monopolized drivers one night of the year—
giving independence, yet hovering near,
and perhaps making sure that the threat clearly stated,
if the treat’s not a good one, though surely debated,
never comes true. No car windows soaped,
no trees that are left gaily toilet-roll-roped.
Over decades, this holiday’s earned such renown,
that it’s the same in town after town.
Small ghosts and small ghouls and witches and fairies
go house-to-house restating their queries
and as though it is magic, no one can resist
a candy-filled pumpkin hung from a small wrist.