Elmo and Sponge Bob were there
and a fairy princess in pink and white net,
Spiderman and clowns,
and pumpkins too,
and scarecrows in chewed-up felt hats.
But Leah, with a hot dog in her left hand,
a jug of blue juice in her right, couldn’t take
her eyes off the monster
she didn’t have a name for yet: Grim Reaper
— hooked nose, red eyes, black cloak,
bloody cardboard scythe — and two paces
behind him a pint-sized double.
From the pony ride, the plastic bubble
trampoline, the haystacks she kept lookout
for the monster. Then he was in front of her
coming closer. She dug into her pocket
for the handful of stones she’d collected,
was about to fling them in his direction,
when he suddenly squatted
and tied the shoelaces
of his side-kick sitting on a bench.
Look, she shouted, he’s a Daddy,
and dismissed him as only a child can.
From One Stands Guard, One Sleeps (Plain View Press, 2009).
This poem first appeared in Slant in 2008.
Used here with the author’s permission.