Dia de los Muertos
Death is sitting on my left shoulder, insisting
I remember, Death tapping
whispering, Don’t you dare forget, girl.
I took your son, your friend, your husband,
the first boy who ever kissed you
and if you don’t watch out
I’ll get everyone you want to love.
I’m not talking about old age.
Here I am with Death dancing
with my head on his shoulder.
He collects my tears in the bowl of
I long to be comforted, am squeezed
between his ribs trying to find
a heartbeat. In the silence I whisper No
because the embrace is all too clear,
he wants to claim something that isn’t
mine to give. When I walked
among the graves in Oaxaca
death felt like warm yellow candlelight
spilling across the scars carved into the
ground, the young and the old cast in
their perpetual costumes, the young
dressed in excitement, masks, pulling
at my coat to beg for a treat, the old
huddled together for companionship
as they kept vigil, as they murmured
their memories into the smoke of copal.
At the entrance to el campo santo
we bought hand-made clay coffee mugs
painted with all the colors of Mexico
fragile as the mist among the broken corn
stalks, bright as a Mariachi tune
played at a wedding.
Death is tapping on my forehead
his insistent subtle chatter,
What if? What if?
I hold out my arms as if I could
make a bargain but it’s a lie.
I would gladly pay the debt if it meant
we would finally love
without fear. Do I dare to take
another knowing Death is jealous
of anyone I ever hold close?
Death, I am asking for a divorce.
I’m not talking about rest in peace.