by Sharon H. Smith
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.
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.