La Catrina
by Wilda Morris

La Calavera Catrina, I see you in windows
all over San Miguel de Allende. Your hat
always large, usually tilted in a sexy way,
your dress fine and closely fitted
to your skeletal figure, all flesh removed
from your bones. In one window you
are dressed in black—so someone from north
of the Rio Grande might mistakenly conclude
that one you are a figure of grief. In another,
your are garbed in the brightest blue
or green, garlanded with marigolds,
red hibiscus and purple passion flowers.

Your eyeless skull seems to look back
at me as I stand and stare, admire
your sophistication, the long length
of your bony fingers, sometimes concealed
under satin gloves. You started out as satire,
a reminder that it's not only the poor
who end up in the grave, that no amount
of European refinement could save you
from death, your ultimate earthly fate
the same as that of your servants.

Sometimes I see you walk the streets
of San Miguel on a sunny day just for fun,
or to collect coins from tourists taking
selfies with you. In early November,
you take many guises as you join celebrations
in this ancient town, create an offrenda
to honor your dead, clap to the music
of mariachis, marching bands and roving
guitarists, eat sugar skulls, reminding everyone
that death is a part of life not to be feared.


Return to:

[New] [Archives] [Join] [Contact Us] [Poetry in Motion] [Store] [Staff] [Guidelines]