(I wrote this poem several years ago after being inspired by the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. I recently revised it. Day of the Dead rituals and parties welcome, honor and remember loved ones. The date of the celebration coincides with Halloween in the U.S.)
Poem and art by Mo Conlan
The house is aglow with candles
shining on images of faces we love.
There is music and food and much tenderness.
They live among us once again –
not as they did in life, but their spirits
dwell with us this night.
Candlelight flickers across
the long, handsome face of my father,
his deeply intelligent eyes,
a glint of ironic Irish humor.
Light plays across the photo
of my mother – eyes brimming
with unstoppable energy her maternal ancestor
Madame R. brought, along with the lace,
from Belgium to the New World –
the joi de vivre that was a counterpoint
to my father’s melancholy compassion,
the laughter that made tears roll down her cheeks.
They were here – so full of industry
and life, so larger than life. Then, gone,
leaving us seven behind, thirteen grandchildren
and now the great-grandbabies beginning to arrive.
An endless procession.
Today, these dear ones leave their heavens,
to be among us once again. They bring us gifts
of love, forgiveness and wisdom.
We welcome them with a feast –
pears and pomegranates, angel cakes
with cream and drizzled honey.
You can almost hear their echoing laughter
as we tell the old family stories,
clapping as the sweet baby
tries her first steps.
This is The Mother.
This is The Father.
Perhaps all of god we shall know
(Revised, October, 2013)