Ah, but you were always leaf-light.
And you so seldom talk
as we go. But there at my side
through the bright leaves you walk.
And yet – touch my hand
that I may be quite without fear,
for it seems as if a mist descends,
and the leaves where you walk do not stir.
(from “All Souls’ Day” by Frances Bellerby)
November 2nd is All Souls’ Day in the western Catholic church and in some Protestant denominations. It’s a day to remember and pray for the souls of all those departed this earth.
Similarly, Día de Muertos, derived from an Aztec ritual, is a three-day holiday in Mexico and other places to celebrate and commemorate friends and family who have died. Graves are decorated with orange marigolds, muertos (the bread of the dead; I love saying that: the bread of the dead the bread of the dead), sugar skulls, mischievous skeletons of paper mache, lacy paper, and other materials, foods, candies, and drinks. Relatives and friends also make altars in their homes decorated with salt, incense, candles, and trinkets and food associated with the one who has died.
This is my virtual altar to those beings who once walked through “bright leaves” — or swam in salt waters, or flew in light air — whose death now means that the leaf, the water, the air does not stir with their movement any longer.
I’m more than willing to believe that all animals have souls.
These perfect beings swam in salt (and one, fresh) waters; may they swim and float, enfolded in safety and relaxation, with joy forever:
These perfect creatures flew in the light and lovely air; may they swoop and glide with grace, on currents of ceaseless love, ever after:
And these perfect ones walked on the land, through the bright leaves and on the yielding sand; may they move with fluency, ease, and a sense of spaciousness and unassailable well-being all the days of their afterlives:
I’m not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter. (from “Nothing but Death” by Pablo Neruda, transl. Robert Bly)