Poetry Sunday: “All Hallows Eve, Edgewater Inn,”
by Catherine Clark-Sayles


All Hallows Eve, Edgewater Inn

Near sunset waves flatten to sequined stillness,
rising, falling—a slow breathing beast.
The old year turns tonight and the dead
may slide into a clearer focus.

I’ve left no spirits on this shore
but tonight I’ll borrow a passing fog,
stretch out some old sorrow,
drink toasts in bitter-sweet liqueur

while grackles fall like darkened stars
in twos and fives, then dozens
past my balcony chair, break and rise
as smoke, wheel as one—again, again.

They make arcane devotion to the guttered gleam.
Egg of orange fire, horizon-balanced then gone.
The bay: a beaten sheet of matte and shine
lifts the ship that slowly swings

around its anchor, points the ebbing hour
as gnomon to a darker sun. Tonight—a night for fires,
for huddling in, for a Buddy Holly bartender
to shake up my drink, while a woman dressed

as Marilyn in white halter dress and platinum
wig sways by carrying plates of fragrant meat
and a young man in an Elvis jumpsuit curls
his lip to ask “What do you need tonight?”


First published in Locus Point: The Place of Poetry, locuspoint.org

Listen to the poet reading her poem here.


Catharine Clark-Sayles is a geriatrician practicing north of San Francisco. She traveled across the United States extensively with a military family while she was young, then became an Army doctor. When she turned forty, she discovered that she had missed her twenties the first time around and reconnected with poetry to find them. She has published two books of poetry with Tebot Bach Press: One Breath in 2008 is poetry drawn from medical training and practice. Lifeboat was published in 2012. Her new chapbook, Brats, is a collection of poems from her military childhood, published in 2018 by Finishing Line Press. Recent work has appeared in Spillway, Locuspoint.org, The Squaw Valley Review, Persimmon Tree, The Healing Art of Writing, vols.1 and 2, Neat, The Healing Muse, and many of the annual editions of The Marin Poetry Center Anthology and The Poetry Farmer’s Almanac. Author photo by Cynthia Pavlinac.


Poet’s Note

A few years ago I spent Halloween at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle. The bar has a mixed vibe of natural and industrial, with rough-barked trees articulated with metal hinges holding up a dark mirrored ceiling while a video montage of classic movies flickers on one wall. That night the wait-staff was dressed as the cinema and music icons of my childhood: Elvis, Marilyn, Buddy,  John, and George, now among the departed spirits allowed to return for one night. I began writing poems populated by these folks and by the characters from Saturday Creature Features with an obsessiveness that puzzled me until I realized I was writing my story of coming of age and gender identity as learned from the monsters I loved. All Hallows Eve at the Edgewater Inn is the title poem for the collection.

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