On the Day of the Dead

by Elsa Johnson

My mother will unpack herself from her box of

ashes   move to a comfortable chair   look at me

critically   and say : You’re wearing that?  And maybe

this time I will have the will to not run and change

my clothes   My father will reassemble himself from

the soil under the lemon tree in Arizona   come

north for the day    sit at the table drooped scowling

over his cigarette like a crow or Ichibod Crane   

while my brother who brought him mutters  humph

humph at all he disapproves of on principle 

which is everything —  my house   my head   my heart

Toward the end my dead lover will come   line them up

and dance them all back to dust…   while I smile and wave 

Crying :  Goodbye!  Goodbye again…    Same time next year?


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