Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos
by Yusef Komunyakaa

Terra-cotta shrines for loved ones
Who died to hurt us. We rehearse
Their tunes & display their favorite
Colors in a labyrinth of unwinding rooms

Through inner sancta where baroque
Gargoyles open their eyes to scare away
Evil. Plaster of Paris
& paper-mache dusted with glitter.

We season The Last Supper
With salt brushed from bodies
Temporal & unreliable as amaranth
Scenting The Mission District.

Halloween skeletons earn the weight
Of ivory & facade, resting
Like some beautiful accident
On a dice maker's workbench.

When first reading this poem, I immediately took note to a cynical mood throughout the piece. I am not very familiar with the names of poetic devices, but I really liked how the author started off serious with "Terra-cotta shrines for loved ones" and then starts the next line with "Who died to hurt us." When I first read that I took it seriously, but when I really thought about it, I got the sense that the author was trying to make a sort of dark joke. Loved ones don't really die to hurt us, however the result usually is that their death causes us a great deal of pain. To continue with the sense of cynicism, the author continues with these sorts of remarks, once again a mood that is light in a comedic sense but at the same time rather dark, writing of how "We season The Last Supper With salt brushed from bodies". When reading the poem, I had to look up the word amaranth, apparently the author is describing the plant from which the people derive the dye for all their illustrious masks. I like how the poem as a whole has a mood that mirrors that of the holiday of which it speaks. Halloween is a time in which we take some of the darkest aspects of our human existance: death, monsters, evil, and things that scare us, and wear them in a light of comedy and joviality. The mood of this poem captures that and portrays it in what I would consider a pretty accurate manner, contrasting the darkness with a comedic light.

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