Wednesday, November 2, 2011

El Dia de los Muertos, or, in our culture, All Souls Day

The second day of November is All Souls Day, or in Mexico and Central America, El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, when our gone ones are honored with candles, their favorite foods, and memories of their lives with us.   My sister SW Georgian, Glenda Council Beall, remembers her kinfolk in this poem that seems a fitting expression of All Souls Day.   The closing line, "closed under sod upon a quiet hill" rings with the voices of the Romantic poets I love.   Glenda now lives in the WNC mountains, like me, over in Hayesville, where she has been active in the NC Writers Network West and now has her own writing circle (see below).  Her blog sites are well worth visiting.   

Stop the Trees from Growing

Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again,
but I came here today, to where Mother nurtured
my spirit and where Daddy kept the roof over my head;
where the fire warmed my bed at night, when winter winds
howled ‘round the corners of the old frame house
when this flat farm with ponds and pines was home.

It’s not the buildings all torn down, the homes of friends
that now hold dreams of families I don’t know ─ it is
the trees.
Nothing stopped the trees from growing, growing ever taller,
till they dwarfed the house, the barn, the back yard,
now a tiny garden towered over by  a lilac tree
a pear tree and one giant oak.

I traveled from what is and has been home for fifteen years,
to visit that which was, but is not home anymore.
Like you, Thomas Wolfe, I can’t go home again.
That place I once called home is gone.

Forever gone, except in memories that linger like lazy chimney smoke
spiraling through my mind, thoughts that surge a yearning deep within
to hear the laughing voices, see the kindly eyes – stilled voices, loving eyes,
closed under sod upon a quiet hill.

Glenda Beall grew up in southwest Georgia where the land is flat and the horizon green pines. Her home is now in western North Carolina where she feels she has always belonged. Her poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. Her poetry has appeared in Kakalak, 2009 Anthology of North Carolina Poets, as well as literary journals, Main Street Rag, Appalachian Heritage, and online journals, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Future Cycle Poetry. She is director and owner of Writers Circle, a studio fin Hayesville, NC for writing and writers. She also teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School and Tri-County Community College.


  1. This is a lovely poem that Glenda Beall wrote. I can just see her childhood home. Glenda is one of my favorite poets.
    Thanks for posting this, Kay.


  3. Brenda Kay, thanks for dropping by. Glenda is a fine poet indeed!

  4. Glenda is a great writer!!! And this is one of my favorite poems written by her : )

  5. Hi Kay, Thank you for posting my poem and thanks to all who left comments. I feel quite honored to be a part of Kathryn Byer's blog site.
    I'm happy this poem seems to touch people in the way I was touched by finding you really cannot go home again, but you can go on.

  6. So nice, Glenda. Beautiful evocation of what can happen when we try to go hoe again.

  7. smart.

    welcome join our poetry picnic week 13 today.

  8. Julia Nunnally DuncanNovember 16, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Such a beautiful last stanza and so true. Laughing voices and kindly eyes. How poignant.