My reflections on Day of the Dead are almost completed.
While watching the Purépecha remember their dead, this recent Billy Collins poem from Horoscopes for the Dead echoed through my memory. It is appropriately titled "Grave."
Tomorrow we can discuss its underlying philosophy.
What do you think of my new glasses
I asked as I stood under a shade tree
before the joined grave of my parents,
and what followed was a long silence
that descended on the rows of the dead
and on the fields and the woods beyond,
one of the one hundred kinds of silence
according to the Chinese belief,
each one distinct from the others,
but the differences being so faint
that only a few special monks
were able to tell them apart.
They make you look very scholarly,
I heard my mother say
once I lay down on the ground
and pressed an ear into the soft grass.
Then I rolled over and pressed
my other ear to the ground,
the ear my father likes to speak into,
but he would say nothing,
and I could not find a silence
among the 100 Chinese silences
that would fit the one that he created
even though I was the one
who had just made up the business
of the 100 Chinese silences -
the Silence of the Night Boat
and the Silence of the Lotus,
cousin to the Silence of the Temple Bell
only deeper and softer, like petals, at its farthest edges.