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.