During the week, I often come across poetry, a bit of writing, and/or a photo that gives me pause in a satisfying way where I reconnect with the present. I’d like to share these moments with you.
All of the poems and photographs here celebrate the upcoming Dia De Los Muertos.
Dia de Los Muertos is on November 1st and 2nd. These are days to honor your dearly departed.
People who build ofrendas use the Cempasúchil flower (Mexican Marigold). Maybe you’ve seen vendors near cemeteries or on corners selling the flowers. The twenty-petal flower has a unique musky, pungent smell and is used to call forth the spirits of loved ones.
With every celebration comes an origin story. This one comes from centuries ago.
THE LEGEND OF THE FLOWER OF CEMPASÚCHIL
This beautiful legend tells the love story of two young Aztecs, Xóchitl and Huitzilin, as well as the legend about the Cempasúchil flower.
The romance between these two young people began when they were still little. As children, they had fun playing together and enjoying the surroundings of their town. In time, it was natural that a great love blossomed between them.
They say that every afternoon they went up to the top of the mountain to bring flowers to Tonatiuh, the sun god, he seemed to smile at them from the heights before the offering of lovers, and they swore to love each other forever, even beyond death.
One day the war came, and the lovers had to part because the young Huitzilin had to go to fight.
Sadly soon after, news came that Huitzilin had been wounded and eventually killed. The beautiful Xóchitl felt her heart break with pain.
She decided to climb the mountain for the last time to implore Tonatiuh, the sun god, to unite her forever with his love. The shaken sun released one of its rays, and when it touched the girl, it turned her into a beautiful flower with colors as intense as the sun’s rays.
In a short time, a hummingbird arrived that lovingly settled in the center of the flower.
It was Huitzilin who had transformed into a beautiful hummingbird. Instantly the flower opened into 20 petals, with an intense and mysterious aroma … Lovers would always be together as long as marigolds and hummingbirds existed.
This is how the marigold flower was born, the flower of the dead.
Day of the Dead Poem
by Alberto Rios
It is not simply the Day of the Dead—loud, and parties.
More quietly, it is the day of my dead. The day of your dead.
These days, the neon of it all, the big-teeth, laughing skulls,
The posed calacas and Catrinas and happy dead people doing funny things—
It’s all in good humor, and sometimes I can’t help myself: I laugh out loud, too.
But I miss my father. My grandmother has been gone
Almost so long I can’t grab hold of her voice with my ears anymore,
Not easily. My mother-in-law, she’s still here, still in things packed
In boxes, her laughter on videotape, and in conversations.
Our dog died several years ago, and I try to say his name
Whenever I leave the house—You take care of this house now,
I say to him, the way I always have, the way he knows.
I grew up with the trips to the cemetery and pan de muerto,
The prayers and the favorite foods, the carne asada, the beer.
But that was in the small town where my memory still lives.
Today, I’m in the big city, and that small town feels far away.
Part II-IV of the poem can be found at Poets.org
You know the origin story and the flowers used. Here’s a photo of Huitzilin as the hummingbird.
You don’t have to be of Mexican heritage to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. You don’t even have to build an altar.
But if you do, know that they can be as simple as a candle, photos of the departed, water, and paper (these are the four elements), or as elaborate as a multi-tiered altar with favorite foods, drink, flowers, photos, and Papel Picado.
See you next Sunday. I hope you enjoy your week and partake of some of the sweet treats of Halloween.
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