All Saints’ over, the roast seeds eaten, I set
On a backporch post our sculpted pumpkin under the weather,
Warm still for November. Night and day it gapes
In at us through the kitchen window, going soft
In the head. Sleepwalker-slow, a black rash of ants
Harrows this hollowed globe, munching the pale peach
Flesh, sucking its seasoned last juices dry. In a
Week, when the ants and humming flies are done, only
A hard remorseless light drills and tenants it through
And through. Within, then, it turns mouldblack
In patches, stays like this for days while the weather
Takes it in its shifty arms: wide eyespaces shine, the
Disapproving mouth holds firm. Another week, a sad
Leap forward: sunk to one side so an eyesocket’s almost
Shut, it becomes a monster of its former self. Human,
It would have rotted beyond unhappiness and horror
To some unspeakable solitary subject state, its nose
No more than a vertical hole, the thin bridge of amber
Between nose and mouth in ruins. The other eyesocket
Opens wider than ever in disbelief. It’s all
Downhill from here: peremptory steady fingers of frost
And knuckles of sun strain all day and night at it,
Cracking the rind, kneading the knotted fibres
Free. The crown with its topknot mockery of stalk
Caves in; the skull buckles; the whole head begins
To drip tallowy tear-sized drops. Surely the end
Is in sight. A day or two more topples it in on itself
Like ruined thatch, pus-white drool spidering from
The corner of the mouth and worming down the bodypost.