“Day of the Dead” by Peg Alford Pursell

A new story by alumna Peg Alford Pursell (fiction, ’96) appears online at The Quotable: 

When I was a child, Day of the Dead meant sugar skulls, staying up past midnight, marigolds, burning copal, blazing votives. I didn’t recognize any of the faces in the photographs on the altar. Now I have my own dead – and no sweet bread, hot wax, or tequila to lure them, no fancy papel picado. The dead come anyway, in fragments, perforated memories. My grandmother wearing a man’s fedora, a secret greeting card folded into her dress pocket. My grandfather, who burnedbasura in his basement fireplace, sending obscene odors throughout the neighborhood, whose last act was to eat a bowl of strawberry ice cream in the middle of the night. The crush I smoked pot with behind the brick chimney in the attic of his parents’ home, wrapped up with me in his sleeping bag. He confessed he had no plan for after graduation, and he laughed, and he never needed the plan. The stillborn girl who looked like a baby bird with bulging eyes curled in a nest under the acacia. The man I’d once thought was the one who wasn’t and whom I couldn’t live with once I understood that, who on a tear of amphetamines put a gun to his head.

Finish reading online. 

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