Lanterns

I've heard that some people leave
the porch light on for three days
after someone has died, so the soul
might not feel the shock of having
to be pushed out of the human nest
too soon or forever. Or maybe
it's so the dead might feel they're
still connected to their former lives.
After we returned home from burying
my grandmother, an aunt stood
at the door, waiting to collect
the candles we'd brought back
from the service. She broke each
in half before we entered
so the dead, newly bereaved of us,
might not come looking for
a companion. Afterwards we ate
a special sweet made with black
rice and coconut milk, still warm
and sticky on a banana leaf
wrapper. It's been a while since I
did what we also did that day:
put a little food on a plate,
tell the dead beloved they may eat
along with us. Is it any wonder
some souls get lost in passage.

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