When I was a little girl day of the dead was staying up till midnight, sugar skulls, pine needles on the church floor, marigolds. I didn’t recognize any of the faces on the altar. Now I have my own dead and no sweet bread or hot wax to offer them, just corner store chocolate leftover from Halloween and scented candles that smell like air freshener. The dead come anyway, little memories with sharp edges. The father of an ex, who I loved because he raised a gentle son. My grandmother picking lint off a towel, my grandmother and her folded secrets. My crush from the feed store before he went to war. Shanice in lime green jeans, two years before she made it to college and three before she was shot in front of a party. My brother’s best friend. A drowned girl at the beach. My grandfather banging his spoon on a glass, embarrassing a crowded restaurant: the six year old under the table, my last memory his knees. And Betty who said we’re too young to be tired, Betty talking freedom on the radio, Betty murdered on a country road in Oaxaca.
I want everything taken from them. I want to wake with the one I love. I want a ribcage of bravery. I want kindness, a kitchen hot with radio song, a mouthful of river water, a sleeping child.