Dr. Phil and I Take Down Halloween Decorations

Last year, I bought candy corn lights on sale;
so much easier to be festive once decorations
are in boxes for next year. But now, those lights
riddled with pollen and very real spiderwebs
twist their way around the posts on the porch.

The smell of week-old jack-o-lantern wafts sweetly
to remind me that decay is coming, and soon
the face will rot inward, caking the candle
with layers of useless, weather-worn fruit.
I hand Dr. Phil the lights as we weave
them in and out of the wooden slats and he winds
them around his forearm as we go. “Sometimes
I like the small tasks,” I say. “It resets my brain,
focusing on something rote.” He smiles.
“So many relationships could be saved like this,
handing small lights back and forth until the job
is done.” I want to yell at him: can’t we just do
this, not worry about what it means?

But I listen to the thick glass clink
as the bulbs hit each other, and decide
to just let him have this one: after all,
if I wasn’t reaching for significance here,
would he keep coming back to me?

Photo by David Olimpio


About Author


Katie Darby Mullins teaches creative writing at the University of Evansville. In addition to being nominated for a Pushcart Prize and editing a rock 'n roll crossover edition of the metrical poetry journal Measure, she's been published or has work forthcoming in several journals including Hawaii Pacific Review, Harpur Palate, Prime Number, Big Lucks, Pithead Chapel, The Evansville Review, and she was a semifinalist in the Ropewalk Press Fiction Chapbook competition and in the Casey Shay Press poetry chapbook competition. She's also the lead writer and founder of the music blog Katie Darby Recommends.

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