Samantha Renteria, age 13
This poem is about Día de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that I’ve celebrated for as long as I can remember. My family and I never celebrated it in a big way, but it has still gifted us with so many sweet memories regardless of how we’ve chosen to celebrate it. I first wrote it in a Writing Wednesday workshop with WriteGirl and have refined it since. They asked us to write a small poem that brings a connection to ourselves and our culture, and that’s how this was born.
Día de los Muertos
Halloween may overshadow
this enchanting night,
with its vibrant, billowing costumes
and clanging plastic buckets filled
with tricking treats ready for bite.
Yet this day always holds
its own cherished light
in many families’ histories,
After a long day of trick-or-treating,
I remember always coming home tired
to this wonderful sight prepared days prior:
Every year during November,
when leaves in hues of red
find their places on the ground
with dim skies overhead,
and once-warm wind is chased away
by cold, cloudier weather with fresh apple cider,
an altar is prepared.
Oranges, purples and blacks
wash over the living room table,
and frames of relatives are set out
next to glowing candles and the soft
petals and vases of marigolds.
Pan de muerto is placed on a white platter
along with delicious foods and beverages
near and dear to the people
we wish to honor and remember.
Cream walls are laced with papel picado –
colorful, eye-catching patterns
of intricate flowers and skulls set aglow by
a welcoming shine of orange, glowing radiance.
I’ve heard stories that in many other places
this day is celebrated in a grand way,
with festivals and parades
where people sing and dance,
wearing glimmering attire
and makeup so lively
all night long.
But I wouldn’t change
the feelings that arise
when I’m met with the sweet aroma of
delicate late fall and lingering spice
while sitting on soft firm carpet
enjoying my time with those close to me.
I wouldn’t change
the bursting excitement
of hiding with my sister under seas of orange
to enjoy sweets and this holiday’s delight,
for no matter how big or small this day comes to be,
this is how I’ve always celebrated.
Yes, this day might be overshadowed by a spooky night,
but the moon reveals there’s nothing there to fright,
and it doesn’t always have to be big to excite.
Its moments waiting silently to ignite –
that always makes my night.