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The Altar



Of tiered concrete painted white,

near the entrance to the cemetery,

it was erected by the locals

solely for the celebration

of Los Días de los Muertos.

This evening, as night falls

like the laying on of hands,

it will be radiant with the light

of a bonfire casting long shadows

across the graves, the shadows

of the expectant living waiting

for the presence of the dead.

This morning, Irene is kneeling

at the altar, easing mementos

of Clemente from her colorful bag

woven by a Mexican artisan.

She gently sets them on the shrine:

black, antique prayer beads;

a tuft of his blue-black hair

sealed in a heart of acrylic;

his heirloom jar of puppies’ teeth;

his favorite book of poems;

a pot of dazzling marigolds;

the sugar skull made even sweeter

by the purple icing of his name;

a long stemmed, blood-red rose;

and a photo of him and Irene

dancing in a moment frozen

in time and kept for the ages

in a gilded frame of Mexican silver.






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Larry D. Thomas

Los Días de los Muertos

(Big Bend area, far West Texas





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