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Cathy Barber

Stamen and pistil, male and female,
at the center. Petal variations from
gold-tipped maroon to snazzy yellow,
from a measured number
to dense pompom clusters of
packed papery shreds—

pumpkin-orange pillows
dip in the wind, and rally
like determined scarecrows,
be it stark sunshine
or the pickled black of night.

Dia de los Muertos,
Mexican marigolds guide ancestors home
to visit family altars piled high
with sweet bread, oranges, candles,
to view their portraits, taken
two, three, forty years ago,

to accept offerings and celebrate life.
They bring the Monarchs,
the souls, this year, next,
and every migration, orange
on the altars, orange in the sky,
watch them hover and land.