There are Lonely Cemeteries (after Pablo Neruda)
but not in Romerillo, Chiapas, on Day of the Dead
when colossal chrysanthemums cover pine
branch crosses, whisper and wave on windy hillside.
A voyeur tourista, I hide beneath umbrella up incline
following villagers who have trudged many miles under
bleak clouds to reunite with departed loved ones. Death
might be contagious, so I circumvent graves, especially
the one with a cracked wooden casket half sticking out
of damp earth eroded from misty rain that drips like tears.
Families spread blankets on burial mounds, unpack baskets
filled with favorites: pan dulce, cigarillos and chicha de jora
inviting loved ones to celebrate with them once more.
Monkey men in painted faces and beribboned hats serenade
against competing accordions, guitars and maracas bands.
Below the rise, food booths beckon, a Ferris wheel, carnival
rides. Not tempted, I remain somber, think of my own
parent’s ashes interred in a wall at impeccably
manicured Fort Rosecrans, only a few miles
from my home, but never take the time to visit.
Published in A Year in Ink, Volume 13, 2020.