Fresh loaves of pan de muerto sit on the shelves and big
baskets sit on the floor of my bakery, some decorated with
bones out of dough, others arranged as if skulls. As Posada
once said, “todos somos calaveras,” we will end up without
flesh, only bones. Eggs, flour, yeast, sugar, a dash of anise,
is all that it takes to raise up the dead in the oven.
I’ve prepared my altar at home: a picture of abuela Lupe,
abuelo Joaquín, tío Favio, tía Marta, without forgetting
my precious dog Ollie, all standing next to flickering
candles and around marigold petals which are scattered
to guide them away from their gravesites each year on
the first two days of November.
I must lay out the ofrendas. I will place jars of water to
quench their thirst after their long journeys, loaves of my
best pan de muerto to dunk into hot chocolate, mezcal and
pulque for the men, atole, mole negro, and all kinds of fruit.
I will sit in the middle, wearing my smock on top of my shirt,
the big breadbasket covered in a white cloth upside down on
my head, to look like a calavera, and we will dine together.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
This poem is inspired by Octavio Ocampo’s painting “Skull.”
Mari-Carmen Marín was born in Málaga, Spain, but moved to Houston, TX, in 2003, where she has found her second home. She is a professor of English at Lone Star College—Tomball, and enjoys dancing, drawing, reading, and writing poetry in her spare time. Writing poetry is her comfy chair in front of a fireplace on a stormy winter day. Her work has appeared in several places, including, Wordriver Literary Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Dash Literary Journal, Months to Years, The Awakenings Review, Lucky Jefferson, San Fedele Press, Willowdown Books, The Comstock Review, The Green Light Literary Journal, Mothers Always Write, Breath & Shadow, The Ekphrastic Review, Poets’ Choice, iō Literary Journal, Kaleidoscope, Toho Journal Online, Poetica Review, Sepia Journal, Litbreak Review, Magnolia Review, Speckled Trout Review, New Reader Magazine, Off Topic Publishing, Honeyguide Literary Magazine, or Tint Journal. Her debut poetry book, Swimming, Not Drowning, was published by Legacy Book Press in 2021.