“From the Day of the Dead to Madison, Wisconsin” by John Grey



The tourist stands at the edge of the sidewalk
to contemplate flamboyant coffins being toted through
the streets of Vera Cruz during Holy Week.
He draws nourishment, emotionally and intellectually,
from the integration of death into his life.

Studying the procession as it passes,
he sees the interconnectedness
of smiling Catrina skulls
and wondering when his own passing will come.

Contemplating the decay, the end,
had always sent a shudder through his heart.
But now along comes a dancing, toothy skeleton
and, as with the children around him,
his spirits soar.

He nibbles on a candy cadaver
purchased from a roadside stall.
He explores the treasures
of feeling himself in a body
and imagining himself without.

He’s not afraid of death again
until he returns to the States
to witness his mother in a panic
as she awaits the results of a biopsy
and hears how a cousin was just killed in a car crash.

The man stands at the edge of the lives of others
wondering what they ever did to deserve their fate.
Along comes a parade of coughers and complainers,
worriers and weaklings,
and those who could, even now,
be unknowingly in harm’s way.
There is nothing there for him to draw on.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sheepshead Review, Studio One, and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.  



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