...was back in November. I wrote a poem about it, which I just came across while organizing my files. I submitted it to my writers' group, where it was met with mixed reviews. Since long distance, in this case, has precluded an in-depth editorial conversation, I let the project lie like the dead people we commemorated that day. But since blogs are all about first drafts, mediocrity be damned, I present my poem for your potential edification:
Dia de los Difuntos
Pines, as I know them,
Are the green that remains through the harshest winter
There is another evergreen, all but forgotten in my world:
That of the land which knows no winter.
In this place, palm trees and pines grow together
Up from grass that grows exuberantly
around the graves of so many little ones.
Look, there’s my husband. In the dark blue.
My eyes find their rest upon the immaculate tomb.
“Que lindo es!”
How lovely it is.
How lovely he is.
In a place of so many palms,
Pine is the symbol they claim.
As hearts enduring a hidden barren season,
The abundant death shrouded in abundant life.
Grief thrives like the flora,
But they have not come to grieve.
They have come to accompany.
as I have come to accompany
The living, and today the dead.
See, love, a foreigner has come to visit you
Cleaning, painting, tidying their homes,
Most families simply sit,
Gladly accepting the hospitality of their loved ones’ resting places.
A girl of 10 reclines upon a tomb no larger than her own body.
Two children resting in each other’s presence,
A mirror image in life and death.
Two old women sing
I do not know if the pitches they seek are the same or different
But their voices meet in startling harmony,
Not quite unison and not quite dissonant.
They pray for resurrection and eternal life in heaven,
Yet the spirits never leave them on the journey,
Can never escape their care, even in heaven.
Lord, remember those dead whose names are lost to us,
Lest they have need we cannot know.
In heaven or on earth, walking together as a community unbroken
In this place, the land of the palm and the land of the pine are one.
Under their protective shade, families are whole again.