Edwidge Danticat: on the Day of the Dead


A Poem by Edwidge Danticat

Celebrated writer Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. Among her books are:  Breath, Eyes, Memory; Krik? Krak!; The Farming of Bones; Brother I’m Dying; The Dewbreaker; and Create Dangerously: the Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat has earned many distinctions, including a MacArthur (genius) award in 2009.  She lives in Miami with her husband and daughter.


on the day of the dead

this november 2 feels like the 2nd day of the dead
the other one came too soon so we had no time to prepare
no time to call on la flaca, the lady of the dead
no time to call on le bawon, the guardian of the cemetery
no time to clean the gravesites, yank the weeds
repaint the mausoleums and cover the tombstones
with garlands of cockscomb or beds of carnations
or wreaths of marigold, the flower of four hundred lives
no time to make pan de muerto or pen patat for our deceased
or pour tequila or babancourt rum as libation on their heads
no time to set off fireworks to rouse our angelitos
or ti lezanj from their premature rest
no time to burn incense to lure them back this way
if only for a while
no time to gather up a wash basin, a towel and soap
for them to bathe if ever they should return
no time for a mariachi or rara band to think up a good song
only time for llorada—the weeping
only time for kriz—convulsions the body uses to mourn
only time for the plaintive chime of somber church bells
only time to recite the rosary under our breaths
only time to ponder our three deaths
the one that happens when our breath leaves us to rejoin the air
the one that follows when we are given back to the earth
and the most final one of all
the one that ultimately erases us
when no one remembers us at all


Source:  VOICES



Dady Chery

About Dady Chery

Dr. Dady Chery is a Haitian-born journalist, playwright, essayist, and poet. She is the author of "We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti's Struggle Against Occupation." Her broad interests encompass science, culture, and human rights. She writes extensively about Haiti and world issues such as climate change and social justice. Her many contributions to Haitian news include the first proposal that Haiti’s cholera had been imported by the UN, and the first story describing Haiti’s mineral wealth.

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