“The path back to the living world
must not be made slippery by tears”
Marigolds blaze yellow under Oaxacan sun.
Their slender necks stretch above fern green foliage.
Singular stars of this late October hillside, they drape
their riches over the edges of terra cotta stone
like a beautiful woman lounging naked on a chaise,
denying the time-bound limits of beauty.
They wear their bodies recklessly, these cempazuchitl,
these flowers of the dead. Soon, an elder’s hand
will pluck them from this life, mix their petals
on the ofrenda, ¹ shrouded by the incense of copal,
the backs of his descendants bent beneath a colder sun.
Subsuming their bright allotment on foreign soil,
the lost children of Mictecacihuatl ² dream of sugared skulls
and warm hojaldra ³ as they lie under a canopy of snow.
Someday they, too, may return to wreathe the fleshless grin
of this country, the nexus of their souls. La Pelona 4 is filled
but never sated with the bodies of her dead.
© by JP Reese
First published September, 2011 by Gutter Eloquence Magazine
1. ofrenda = altar
2. Mictecacihuatl = goddess of the underworld
3. hojaldra = Mexican puff pastry
4. La Pelona = Death