In this season of remembrance,
as the world prepares for the long sleep of winter,
our hearts draw closer to the ones who’ve gone before.
We open the bundles of grief
whether thickly wrapped by the years
or jagged edges poking through new, thin cloth,
glimpsing the missing who walk at the blurry edge of vision.
But not all we mourn has passed on.
Our hearts sometimes rattle with the terror of near misses,
when the almost-lost are still this side of the thinning veil.
We see their ghostly pictures on the ofrenda.
We see friends and coworkers, and imagine what they’d wear to the wake.
We give no time to recover from these brushes with loss
Of deaths so narrowly averted, our knees still quake
and we listen to their breathing in the night
and imagine how different the house would sound without it.
We wash the clothes they wore the day we almost lost them.
Our hands are drawn like magnets to rub the scars.
We drive out of our way not to see the cursed-blessed place.
Accidents and attempts, panics and scares, on days so near
we might still turn to those pages in our planners.
And when we cry our tears of terror and relief on All Souls’ Day,
when we are pressured toward gratitude instead of grief,
the hundred thousand living specters squeeze the breath from our lungs
at the graves marked but not dug.