AT THE TOLL OF THE BELL
By John Thomas Tuft
Not sure I’ve tried anything Halloweeny before…
As the moon began it’s climb for the night of All Hallows Eve
And the stars began their ride promising fortune and fate
There appeared a seer, a rumpled old man stumbling into town
Proclaiming to all within, “At the toll of the bell, close the gate.”
Most of those who heard him laughed with scorn and derision
“He’s a drunk and a coward, for the gate is how we get in.”
Except for one small child, a girl with little to eat, and all alone
Who knew the bell had been silent for ages, all but forgotten.
But this is the night when devils and spirits are freed to play
Bringing mischief and deceit, spells and fearful prayers openly spoken
And terrors not faced melt into the darkness within us
Turning into monsters unleashed if the gate is left open.
The child sought out the old man and offered him her hand
And with eyes filled with pain and grace asked, “Are you a saint?”
He gave a sad laugh and bent low to kiss her cheek
And in a whisper only she could hear, “At the toll of the bell, close the gate.”
The town folk surrounded the crazy prophet to drive him back into the dark woods
The girl gave him the rest of her food, urging “Don’t be ruled by their fright.”
But the crowd urged each other on with repetitions of hate
And they chased him away on that All Hallows Eve night.
Lo, when the bewitching hour arrived, a cloud covered the moon
And all were roused from their beds by a clamor, twas the tolling of the bell
Yet it was only the little girl who ran to close the gate
And witnessed the specter of what arose from the kingdom of hell.
For it was the old prophet come to claim his place as the prince of the town
Who had fashioned the bell with the strength of his hands.
Now kneeling before the gracious heart of the child
Saying, “If not for you, I would destroy this land.”
A great knight dressed in steel, astride a black steed who snorted and pranced
Every strike of its hooves added new stars to the unholy night
Making the girl shiver in wonder, yet too afraid to begin to run
While he lifted his visor and said, “Don’t be ruled by their fright.”
Words are magic and writers are wizards.