El Día de los Muertos

Author: 
Katrina Castillo
Year: 
2003
Place Winner: 
3rd Place

Among the ruins of an old temple
A woman walked slowly
Her silvery hair waved violently behind
Her dark feet carried tiredly

Among the ruins of a lost promise
A woman lowered her head
To remember the loved and forgotten
To honor the day of the dead

The woman brought flowers of pale yellow
And small candles scented with hope
She bore upon her the suffering mass
Of those souls lost and corrupt

A ray of sunshine broke the darkened sky
As she climbed the crimson steps
Stained by the deep love that flowed from all hearts
Tainted by a promise once kept

Drops of sun fell upon cream-filled jars
Drops of sun that led to a great altar
The woman knelt before the sacred place
And sorrowfully prayed

Her suffering was so passionate
That her cries chanted in the cold breeze
And carried the sound of an old Spanish corrido
Back to her copper cheeks

Large glass beads fell from her dark eyes
Like a winter monsoon
And shattered on a midnight-blue painting
Of skeletons illuminated by the crystal moon

The old woman grasped a faded green cloth
Torn from a war-battered flag to dry her tears
Those tears, shed with tremendous grace,
Were felt through the painful years

Lying beneath the deep orange glow
Were old pages in faint handwriting
Soto and Cisneros
Names recognized in chipped ink

The pride of Rodolfo Anaya
The anger of Luis Rodríguez
Shook the altar
As their voices roared through the pages

The eloquence of Ana Castillo
The sweetness of Julia Álvarez
Beautifully whispered to the woman
In a soft serenade lost throughout the ages

Among the many sunlit flowers
Adorning the memorial
Were pieces of a cultural past
And many forgotten struggles

Amid those shadows
Shone the faces of deep pride
César Chávez and Corky González
Who led an enduring fight

Of the many faces
Dolores Huerta shone brilliantly
As did her compassion for her people
And those who suffered greatly

An old treaty torn in half
Stood as a vivid memory
As did Miguel Hidalgo
Who gave the great cry of liberty

Here this woman weeps
For her sons and fathers
Of generations past
And still you choose to deny her

Dancing among the ruins
Were the shatters of skeletons,
As the woman looked down
To behold such corruption

You have been the mass of weight
The woman cried tiredly
You have been the haunting chant
The woman cried sadly

You have demoralized your souls!
You have brutalized your culture!
You have disgraced a public
While you choose to ignore

The winter sun
Glorified the cloudy silver sky
And warmed the desolate land
Of ravaged cities nearby

The sun’s enlightened rays
Filled the dreary spirits
Roaming the darkened earth
And ruins nearest

Every beam of warm sunshine
Blanketed around the shoulders
Of the disillusioned people
And the dishonor of others

The woman looked down once more
Her tears became petals of bright yellow
Softly descending to the earth
In a ray of hope

She saw in her people a small flame
Faintly burning with their souls
That they would remember who they were
Always keeping prideful

Among the ruins of a corrupt earth
A woman walked faithfully
Her copper eyes shone brilliantly ahead
Her beautiful heart bled lovingly

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