The tombstone marks the name and the years of a life
To remember that death like a shadow, follows.
But, even for a day, they are alive in memorials and memories.
Flowers are placed, candles are lit
Families gather for prayers and feast around graves.
A carnival for the gone beyond animate the streets
Amidst music and dancing, all festive and bright.
Incense is offered, with prayers and wishes
Food and drink, laid out on the altar.
Whether it’s the day of souls
Or the day they departed…
It’s the day we remember their lives here on earth.
They are our fathers and mothers
Our mentors and friends.
Perhaps a child, sister or brother
who said goodbye too early.
They are our grandmothers and grandfathers
Our uncles and aunts.
They are ancient philosophers or scientists
Past writers and artists, composers, inventors…
Each has a life, a story, alive in our hearts and minds.
And so it is said and can be felt
That we are not alone…
In our villages, and our cities
On earth, or in the infinite worlds…
We are not enchained in this time and space.
*Remember death. Day of the Dead. All Souls Day. Held once a year on November 1 or 2 in the Philippines and in Christendom which commemorates and prays for the deceased, this poem is to honor the dearly departed who remain alive in our memories and hearts and, perhaps, in the infinite worlds.
A sentiment felt strongly in other Asian cultures where ancient Confucian rituals and Buddhist rites for the dead– to honor, give thanks and even speak to a dearly departed one– are still so much alive.
The poem is inspired by lines from the Path in the Message of Silo.