"Dia de Los Muertos", the Spanish name it. Eve
of All Saints, saw we of the church of blessed assurance
of an observance ushering in fall while easing
our multilingual obsession with death. The sun shines
on unmarked graves, and, "Come winter the same
snow falls, dusting us all," so it is said, and so
honored at The Dollar Tree Store.
Weeks before Halloween, when punctilious roadside tents
fill with demonic orange grins, when what the French
call The Season of Color with its 'sturm und drang' roars
in, I push past the doors of The Dollar Tree. No
automatic entry ushers us in, no Pearly Gates swing
wide to celestial Muzak. We come to purchase the needs
of the living-- tinfoil, plastic bags, detergent: a limpid purple
liquid with its cautionary "Do Not Drink," its "Fragrancia
Duradera." Longevity, one dollar a bottle.
Shelves of seasonal gimcracks stack up at the entrance.
"Adornes" in your face, useless for extending time:
crows with real feathers, spectral spider webs, glittery
black skulls, mockup tombstones inscribed "Rest in
Pieces"--Do Not Disturb-- Don't Laugh, You're Next.
I laugh, anyway. Comics know reality is funny.
All Hallows Eve a year ago, our parish priest
stood in cemetery darkness at a rude stone altar,
celebrating Mass at Bosque Bello, our Beautiful Forest
of flashlights and luminaries. There among graves
of the known and unknown, we broke bread and
shared the cup of blood, there, where the blessed dead
settle deep in their shoe-boxes, and the not-yet-
unmasked confront certain demise.