In Place of the Skull by Steven Faulkner

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In Place of the Skull

on the Day of the Dead & the Life of the World

My wife Joy and I return to the Mexico City hotel as a light rain begins to fall. It is Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), now linked to the Catholic Church's All Saints Eve or Halloween, All Saints Day of November 1, and All Souls Day of November 2, when Mexicans traditionally visit the graves of their ancestors and pray for the souls of the departed.

More recently, the cult of honoring Death itself has gained adherents across Mexico. People paint their faces white, draw black sutures on their mouths and cheeks, and outline their eye sockets in black. They walk about like living skulls.

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Steven Faulkner teaches creative writing at Longwood University in southern Virginia. He is the author of Waterwalk: A Passage of Ghosts (2007) and Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty and Loss (2016). Both books are memoirs of father-son journeys that followed the paths of missionary priests: Marquette (in Waterwalk) and De Smet (in Bitterroot).

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