In 2009, just after Halloween, I flew to Tucson to be with my dad. His second wife, Lynn, had passed away just a week or so before. The day before my return coincided with the All Souls Procession, a celebration of life that defies description. It really does. It’s a giant, moving party-as-parade that ends with performances and the ceremony described in this poem – and it was a very fitting way to end a somewhat unorthodox but perfect week and to reflect on her passing and life and death more generally.
That night in November
we released what was gone
but that we had not ceased holding:
loved ones who stopped needing their bodies
things that didn’t serve
pets who still romped behind shadows of trees,
And you and I, we took the slips
of shiny paper
and wrote her name.
I imagined peace where her shaky hands
had once been.
The acrobats lifted the cauldron full of papers
high into the sky
And lit them on fire
but instead of falling
they twinkled and flew away into the night,
on kites with endless strings.