mi día de los muertos

today i am mourning my

sixteen year old self.

i will put her photo up

en mi ofrenda,

and i will decorate her

with pretty blues and greens.

i will set out a plate,

and when she comes i will

tell her she can eat. 

as i pray i will apologize —

she was never seen,

and the goddamn mirror

was always lying. 

i will tell her, we don’t need it

anymore to be pretty.

we have found better reflections

that can show us our beauty. 

in the eyes and minds

of the ones we love,

and the eyes and mind

of us. 

tonight i am mourning my

sixteen year old self. 

tomorrow i will scream at the mirror

and cry about the year that it stole,

but for tonight i will sit 

at mi ofrenda, 

and sixteen year old bela

will tell me i look old. 

i will laugh and she will

tell me it’s a joke.

(she knows she’s not funny,

i tell her that hasn’t changed.)

she won’t eat her food,

and so i do. 

she watches enviously,

and i tell her not to — 

she’ll get there one day. 

most days, i mourn

my sixteen year old self.

i hug her in my brain

when i get a good grade. 

i kiss her forehead when 

my lover kisses mine. 

i hold her hand 

when ours intertwine. 

i hold her hair back

when i throw up at parties,

and i tell her not to cry for me.

we are okay now.

we are seen. 

and everybody knows,

everything i do

is for sixteen year old me.

Photo via Rebecca Niver on Unsplash

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