It is the Day of the Dead And I have no sugar skulls to offer, No tequila, no red flowers, Only the memory of your rictus, Mouth open as if to curse. I thought you were still
living, Small intestinal whispers, But Gabriella said no,
closing your eyes With her palms. I would rather Remember you, young in an apron And your maroon sweater, making Welsh rarebit For Friday supper. The cheese edged brown On the toasted bread.
Today a raw drizzle and the
oak leaves Falling in a slow mournful
chorus. All Souls Day is what we
called it, This time of recollection. You had Green eyes, black hair. I know now You were pretty though as a child I saw you as worried, a cigarette In your stained fingers or
On the Day of the Dead, the
Madonna Is honored. Or Santa Muerte Who loves the assassinated. The piñata of recollection Breaks open and everything falls Randomly. How eagerly we grasp What we can. Mother, I can’t believe What you believed. The
better place With your family gathered;
someone about To carve the turkey, your
sister’s famous Lemon meringue pie.
None of this matters on the Day of the Dead. It is finished. They carried you out on a gurney Like a parcel. I wept with sorrow And relief. It was over, your life that had Diminished to a chair and a
bed. You were content, you said. I was not. Shamed that I hated This transformation. How you Perpetually saluted the Empty air.
On the Day of the Dead, the dead Rise in my dream: Mother, Father in the ’41 Dodge singing off-key As we drive through the Big Horns Where years earlier the
radiator Of the Model-T boiled over. They filled paper cups from a Mountain creek laughing. I wasn’t born then. I was still Where the dead are.
* * * * *
"Dia de los Muertos" was first published in Gargoyle(Vol. 71, 2020)
Joan Colby’s SelectedPoems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and
was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books includeHer Heartsongsfrom Presa Press,Joyriding to Nightfall from
FutureCycle Press,Elements from Presa Press.and Bony Old Folks
from Cyberwit Press.