I join the parade to remember my father:
the birds and the flashing buttons, the epaulettes.
We pass by with cherry baskets
and rifles, with hilarity and solemn purpose.
We pass by in wagons and baby carriages,
walking the street this night, dangling holy cards,
waving ragged banners. The men in long
beards join dancing ballerinas.
Nuns pass by and dictators with giant heads,
and rattling carts filled with bones.
We pass wearing tattoos of our loved ones,
next to the red angel with feathered wings,
the great god Ra, the flaming serpent,
the convicts dragging their chains.
I salute the mute stone lions,
the coffin filled with endless photographs
of foot soldiers, stillborn babies.
We march in the parade as if we could
erase their disappearance with ceremony.
We pass and they pass, the tanks and the soldiers.
The dead have so many champions.
Some wear the hats and cufflinks of the departed,
press flowers from the graveyard into
the linings of their robes. The puppets pass.
Prayers scrawled on paper fill the urns.
They burn into bright flares then are gone.
Geraldine Connolly is the author of four poetry collections including Province of Fire and Aileron. She has taught at the Writers Center in Maryland, Chautauqua Institution and the University of Arizona Poetry Center and received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Breadloaf Writers Conference and the Cafritz Foundation. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.