All Souls

Like refugees, they ran off empty handed,
forsaking heirloom china, cutlery,
leaving behind their hands, their tongues and teeth.
The dead eat only our intentions.

Still we heat the oven, flour our hands.
Into foods they used to crave
we melt too much butter.
We gladly burn our fingers on the skillet.

Hungry? The dead are nothing but hunger

For our sake, they swarm like bees
to sugar skulls and scattered marigolds,
mezcal bottles, glossy loaves of bread,
their own best photos framed in gold,
their graves tidied of weeds. Lured by the lauds
we offer for their safe arrival,

the dead are not Catrinas
gussied in tophats and feathered boas
pipecleaner fingers bent to hold
the stems of red roses,

but they forgive such insults. The dead
draw near us but can only get so close,
like dogs in winter pressed for warmth
to the wrong side of the wall.

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