Donat Bobet invited me to his home for the night of Halloween. I came as a pirate, a costume which I assembled out of a bandana and the cardboard spool from a roll of paper towels. I tied the bandana on my head. Before I stuck the cardboard tube into my belt, I wrote on it with bold, piratical letters: Wooden Sword. I considered whether or not to write on my face with a black marker the words False Beard. I decided against it. I had work the next day, and the ink might not come off.
I arrived a little after the appointed hour. I knocked on the poet’s door, expecting that the party would already be underway. To my surprise, when Donat opened the door to his rooms, he was entirely alone.
“Am I the first?” I said.
He looked puzzled. “The first?” Then he saw my sword. “Ah! No! I should have explained myself,” he said. “This is no party for the grown-ups. For me, Halloween is an affair entirely for the children! I meant only that you might come and help me with the candy!”
“And you have gone to the trouble of making a costume! A very fine one, too!”
“You can tell what I am, then?”
“My friend, do you think I do not have eyes in my head? But one moment!” There were colored pens on his dining table, and small squares of paper, many with writing and drawing on them. He took up a blank piece and wrote on it in red: Scarlet Macaw. He pinned the bird to my shoulder. “There!”
“Thank you,” I said.
“It pulls it all together, I think.”
“And what sort of candy will we be giving the children?”
“I’m afraid that I have eaten it all,” Donat confessed. “There is nothing to give them but the wrappers.” He picked up three of the squares of paper and gave them to me.
The first, with a red and yellow design, said Sugar Bomb. “Ingredients: Raw sugar, corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, brown sugar, gunpowder, BANG!”
The second, with a blue moon and white stars against a black background, was called Space Dust. “Ingredients: Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur. May contain traces of the rings of Saturn.”
The third candy wrapper was for Dead Poet Yummy. “Ingredients: Spun sugar and air. Some of the air in this candy was once breathed by Jean Genet. Swallow it whole and then write a poem about stealing, you little thief!”
“But,” I said, “aren’t the children disappointed?”
“Ah, the children,” said Donat Bobet. “They never come.”