November 1

Día de los Muertos, Merida, Yucatan

First, a wide-angled view,
as if in a travel brochure,
or watching from a high balcony,
or the cathedral’s tower:

Four tourists,
wandering the open city square,
where vendors sell roasted ears
of corn, slathered with
mayonnaise, cheese, and spices.
The decorated city streets
radiate from the square
like arms wearing bracelets.

Zoom in.

The wooden Catherine wheel
in front of the cathedral
is outfitted with explosives
for the evening’s parade.
“Keep your distance from that,”
we joked.

At dusk, the streets alive
with a parade of masks
skeletons, costumes,
we wove through the crowd,
squeezed in and out of
tiny shops that lined
the street. Apartment windows
above the shops displayed
figurines, marigolds,
bread offerings to the dead.
There may have been music.
I’ve lost that detail.



Fireworks in the crowd
startled us, but didn’t worry us
until we understood,
saw the explosions and sparks
bounce from wall
to wall
in the narrow,
where we were trapped with hundreds.

We could die here.

We could die, alive,
active verbs in a distant city.

Now, take the widest view:
imagine the moon,
or Jupiter,
twirling in its own orbit,
unconcerned, or unaware
of the parade you’re dancing in.


  1. Nicole says:

    This leaves me itching to travel again.

  2. Erin says:

    Lovely images! I miss Vermont so much. Why didn’t I move there instead of silly San Francisco? 😉

    1. Rebecca says:

      I hear SF has its merits, too, but… come visit anytime!

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