, , , , ,

After saying goodnight to my lover

H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)

. . . one, two, three . . . one, two, three

and hearing a strange beat in my head

. . . two, three . . . two three

I poured a warm snifter of brandy,

returned, feeling chilled, to my bed.


I drew up the satiny covers,

turned off the last of the lights

and recalling the thrill of his mouth

on my skin, I wasn’t prepared

for a lone violin in the dark

of the room in the loneliest

corner where I’d oft thought of

you, where I tore up the letters

and told you we’re through, now

a gypsy lament slowly bled into

view, silver threads like a matrix

of stardust and dew—two, three


one, two, three                                

one, two, three


I dove like a dormouse to the foot

of my bed, but the music continued

to weave through my dread, and I

felt a cold hand on the back of my

head and a voice softly saying,

the Waltz of the Dead is a song

that I love and I ask you, dear

lady, to give me the chance of a

dance, of a dance, of a dance,

two, three . . . two three.


He was tall and tuxedoed,

exceedingly thin and he smelled

of bay rum with a lavender tinge

of the graveyards he loved. Though

it shouldn’t have been my immediate

choice to accept the cold hand or to

notice the grin creeping through my

chagrin, there was something hypnotic

and weirdly erotic in the way

he reached out, and he called me

by name, and the one, two, three

beat of the the Waltz of the Dead

was arousing a strange kind of

heat in my toes and my head,

so I rose from the covers to find

I was donned in a gown of deep

red, not of silk, something fluid,

I really don’t know, but I saw from

the glint in his eyes he approved.


So we danced, yes, we danced

to the tune of a waltz through a

chandeliered hall where presidents,

singers and painters whose names

you’d recall though their graves are

well trod, were laughing and dancing

with hardly a care, and my partner

who’d written of madness and grief

through a terrible life was now light

on his feet and quite absent of strife,

and it gave me relief on this Hallowéd

Eve to know that the sorrows we

choose to perceive are but shadowy

steps of an infinite dance that is

leading us boldly to new circumstance.


After he’d shown me the realms

of the dead and my shoes were

danced off and my gown felt as

heavy as ribbons of lead, my sweet

new friend Lovecraft returned me

to bed where I drifted off gently

with dialogue, chapters and scenes

in my head of how we are weaving

through each other’s dreams and

how nothing has ever been, nothing

will ever be—one, two, three, one

two, three—bad as it seems.


© Elaine Stirling, 2012