Dia de los Muertos

by Sharon H. Smith


Photo Credit: David Wakely

Lupe kneels on the cool red-tiled patio floor

loosening orange petals, divining

a journey of flowers out her door, out of

her courtyard, out the front gate.

Debemos de guiara los espíritus.

The air warm, pungent. Smoke lingering

from last night’s mesquite fire. Lupe,

her husband, and their two young girls erect

an altar: marigolds, magenta cockscombs, bowl

of papaya and mango. Shelves with lit candles,

photographs, abuelitos, amigos. The children

line up small sugar skulls that sit like soldiers’

helmets, glistening with hallowed eyes

in the candlelight. Lupe

sets out a bowl of rich chocolate mole

made for the spirits, a glass

of water to quench their thirst. In my hands,

a silver-framed picture of my mother

dressed in her 40’s fitted blouse,

mid-calf length skirt and pumps. “Aquí,

ponla aquí,” Lupe says, opening up

a space on the altar. I hold the photo tight

for a moment, then set it in the place generously

made for her and me. I look up at her there

in the community of beautiful Oaxacan

faces. Light glints like a firefly

off the frame.



Photo Credit: David Wakely


About the Author:

Sharon H. Smith is curious, seeks out new experiences, and has a drive to share them. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and frequent collaborator, architectural photographer David Wakely. She is a writer/poet and also savors the city restaurant scene and enjoys cooking, traveling, drawing and co-leading writing retreats at her weekend home in West Sonoma County. She co-edits Birdland Journal, featuring pieces written by retreat participants. Her poetry has been published by Haunted Waters Press, gravelmag.com, Laguna Writers of San Francisco, and Juddhill.com.


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