viernes, 27 de abril de 2012


Poe is one of my favourite`s writers because of his diving into the absurd and darkness of dreams. His stories have haunted different generations through the years. I can recall reading The Black Cat by the chimney when I was only thirteen. A tale that leaves the reader quite perplexed. It certainly contains all the ingredients necessary to satisfy my appetite for horror stories. Sometimes I used to look at the fire while I was thinking about the enigmatic narrator and the murder, putrefaction, and, last but not least, his obsession with the obscurity. So I guess that Edgar Allan Poe himself would have enjoyed. Every year on January 19(Poe’s birthday) a mysterious man used to come to Poe’s grave located at the Westminster Hall and Burying Grounds of Baltimore, bringing three records and a bottle of Cognac. The visitor then drank a toast to Poe’s memory and walks away, leaving behind the flowers and the unfinished bottle. The man was never identified.

The Baltimore tradition has been going on annually for over 60 years, but for the last four years, the “Poe Toaster” has failed to make an appearance. According to some new reports, the Toaster may have join Poe in the other world and the tradition is over. Some people argue that is the mysterious gentleman passed away in 1998, and the tradition was taken over by his son. Many in Baltimore tend to think that the identity of the man will never be revealed. Last year, during a rainy night, there was hope that the mysterious visitor to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave would return but he did not.

 I visited the tomb where someone left a note in 1999 indicated that the original has died. I remember that in 1993, there was another cryptically message saying that the “torch will be passed”. I saw no one. That afternoon, the rain came down in torrents. It was without exaggeration the most terrific deluge I’ve ever seen. The wind blew fiercely, slashing the rain horizontally across the graves. Even the portrait of Poe was not visible to my eyes. Somehow I remember Annabel Lee, a poem written by Poe a long time ago. The American writer frequent used the death of a beautiful woman theme form the repeated loss of women through his own life.

According to some biographers “Annabel Lee was written for Poe’s wife Virginia, who had died two years prior. I was told by a local that Poe’s local legend in Charleston, South Carolina inspired him to write the poem. It tells the story of a sailor who met a woman named Annabel Lee. Her father disapproved of the pairing and the two met privately in a graveyard before the sailor’s time stationed in the city was up. Later on, he heard of Annabel’s death from yellow fever, but her father would not allow him at the funeral. Because he did not know her exact burial location, he instead kept vigil in the cemetery where they had often secretly met. Maybe Poe heard the story when he was briefly stationed in Charleston while in the army in 1827. Finally, the rain began to slacken. Then I saw a man approaching the tomb. I could not see his face from the distance. The dark umbrella covered his features. To my surprise, he was a she; a woman wearing a black suit. She smiled to me before putting some flowers in the grave, and then she walked away. I smiled her back and I decided to follow her, but before that, I put a bottle of Cognac and some flowers on Poe’s grave. At that point I was quite sure that the mysterious visitor to Edgar’s resting place would never return again, so I’ve decided to become the new toaster for one year. I left the southeast corner of Fayette and Greene Streets. The lady kept on walking to stop from time to time just to see if I had followed her. Another mystery was going to be revealed; at certain point, the woman stopped and asked me if I was the new toaster, I nodded and I kissed her on the lips. Her body trembled. The mysterious lady whispered my name in my ear. I was shocked. How an unknown woman knew my name? Who was she? I looked her in astonishment: “you are only the man I’ve been looking for, let me guide you to my temple”. A miserable drizzling rain commenced again. That night I learnt that my Annabel Lee was alive and willing to be taken. I felt Poe’s presence while we were walking away from his tomb. I never came back.

Sergio Calle Llorens

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