November 1st

By Chanel Brenner

Dia De Los Muertos was Riley’s favorite holiday.

He loved smelling the sugar skulls.

Didn’t mind that he couldn’t eat them.

My husband asks what we should do with Riley’s bicycle.

Who wants a dead kid’s bike?

He puts it in the alley for someone to take.

He rummages through boxes in our garage like we are having a fire sale.

He finds my dead father’s rare coins in a sock, a card from my dead grandmother.

Many believe the dead would be insulted by sadness.

Today, I realized sugar skulls have a space on the forehead for a name.

November 1st is marked as a day to honor lost children.

I open Riley’s closet and look at his clothes.

It is silent, and airless as a church.

My husband runs back out to get Riley’s bike.


Chanel Brenner is the author of Vanilla Milk: A Memoir Told in Poems, which was a finalist for the 2016 Independent Book Awards and honorable mention in the 2014 Eric Hoffer awards. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, Raleigh Review, Spoon River, Muzzle Magazine, Barrow Street, Salamander, and others. Her poem, “Apology,” won first place in the Smartish Pace Beullah Rose Poetry Prize.

Originally appeared in NOR 20.

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