On Day of the Dead I ask you to come
home with me to see my altar.
That’s a better line than come and see my etchings.
You do come, like the spirits that night.
You follow the cempazuchil petals and make
your way to my door, that door abandoned and
solitary a full year. You make your way and say
you’ve been sad, and I say I’ve been sad too,
because it’s true, I have.
The ghost of the one before you
alive and haunting my heart, and I
want and long for release from the hurting.
You come with your own ghost following you.
Save me, we think though we don’t say it.
I say, Thirsty? And serve you mescal.
Drink the bottle left for los difuntos, clink our copitas.
I’ll send you home with the cabrito I set out for my father,
the chocolate bizcochitos, the bun~uelos on a clay plate.
Everything but the confetti jello, I say, and laugh.
Sal y agua on this altar. Salt perhaps for our tears,
water for the dead who are always thirsty.
Scent of warm wax candles and acrid marigolds.
Edith Piaf singing “La Vie en Rose.” Chavela Vargas. Lola
Beltran. Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You.” And I wonder if
that cabrito will cast its magic spell.
The night is long. We talk late though you have to get up early,
talk while the dead come back and savor us. Talk,
which is a kind of alimento, a nourishing.
Talk con ganas, as they say, you and I, with feeling.
Copyright 1999 by Sandra Cisneros. By permission of Susan Bergholz Literary Services, New York. All rights reserved.