The Hallway

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words were dainty, tantalize, haunting. An old memory, hopefully I did it justice here.

The Hallway

At the end of every service came
the Haunting, when every grinning
worshipper had gone through
self-closing doors, and in the dead

quiet every creak and squeak
was empirical proof
of malicious spirits waiting
for the final light to be dimmed.

And that was my job, turning
out the last back hallway light
while Dad checked the locks.
Switch at one end, stairs at the other,

hellfire sermon still alive
in my impressionable mind. I flipped
the lights off and paused, the soft red
glow of the exit sign serving only

to tantalize, a temptation
to take the first step
toward safety. I ran, blood pounding,
ashamed of fear but determined

not to become a dainty meal
for fire-breathing forces.
You may laugh and say what you will,
but I have known from childhood

that evil inhabits holy places.


10 thoughts on “The Hallway

  1. I suppose that like old houses you imagine that there are many secrets hidden in the walls. Churches see the lot, baptisms, marriages and funerals so clearly there are those ghosts watching us as we watched them. Evil however is in our own mind. Great tale of fear.


  2. A brilliant assembly of words describing a boy's fear of what he 'knows' to be true. I was a choir-boy in old St. Lawrence church, and all we young choristers just KNEW that the Devil lurked, waiting to get his own back.


  3. Sheilagh, Thanks! I could have titled this poem with your blog title: Fear not the Darkness but What lies within. My poem was really just a commentary on that thought.

    oldegg, Childhood fear is such a strong memory. However irrational our fears may be (since they do often exist only in our own mind), they can have a profound influence on how we act or even who we are. I'm happy you liked it.

    Alt, I tell you, running down that hall I felt the demons prodding me and heard their cackles and hoots. They were more real to me than Santa or the Tooth Fairy, for sure. St Lawrence church in Alton? I've read about that old building–what a wonderful historical structure, full of memories good and bad.

    Shane, Thanks for visiting! I once read somewhere that Martin Luther believed a good strong fart did wonders to drive the demons away. Wish I'd have known that back then. I do my part to keep the forces of darkness at bay now, though.

    Jae, A belief system based on fear is distastful and unappealing, but early indoctrination can be hard to shake. I'd like to think that little boy was able to use his past to find the mercy, grace, and peace he was looking for. Thank you for reading my stuff!


  4. at first I thought 'the Haunting' was some part of the service, though not one that I had heard of. but as I was pulled in by your words, I was quite fascinated by the actuality and was wishing (a) the light switch was closer to the door and (b) to know what lurked at the edges of the red light. lovely poem.


  5. funny how the spirits are everywhere… i can so relate to this… it is good to be able to recognize the good and the bad.. it is said that evil knows god's word better than most… how else would they know the difference… when i enter a building sometimes it is cold sometimes it is hot and sometimes it is just plain empty filled with objects…


  6. ms pie, people had always told me that evil could not dwell side by side with good. My own inner world proves that wrong. I figure if it can happen within me, it can happen anywhere, even in a church building!


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