Wall of the Dead (for the Living)

Muro de Los Muertos by Efren Gonzalez is a giant ceramic mural made up of bas-relief plaques shaped as skulls, each inscribed with the name of the real person to whom it is dedicated, installed in rows along the exterior of the primary school opposite the San Andres church in Ajijic.  The artist Efren Gonazalez was born in this town and lives in his studio down the street from the school, which his children attend. He extended an open invitation to all Ajijic families to sign up for inclusion in the project. “The idea for the mural,” he said, “is to honor ordinary folks.” Passing this wall of skulls, one often hears children’s voices from the school within.

Children’s new voices
reach the street through a wall
adorned with mortality.
Young laughter pealing
through the jawbones of skulls
startles me awake!

So twisted appears today’s world,
hope for human evolution seems absurd,
but here twines companionably,
vibrant life with contented death.
Hope for wholeness sings out
in voices of schoolchildren,

pitched in original sanguinity
reciting lessons through a wall of skulls;
no suspicion in their tones,
no world-weariness,
only buoyant, their tenor.
These invisible children

receive the world through a culture
that marries the ending with the beginning
and embraces transformation like a mother.
They murmur to me through skulls
and suddenly, I can actually imagine
the human family on our pale blue dot
living in jubilation, in accord.

Esperanza muere al último. Mexican proverb








3 Responses to “Wall of the Dead (for the Living)

  • Such a beautiful juxtaposition! The children’s voices, seamlessly interwoven with death as part of life. This has been coming to me in my readings of Goddess history, over and over again. Regeneration.
    Who wrote the poem on the school walls? Many thanks and blessings, Annelinde

  • Susa Silvermarie
    7 years ago

    Efren González the artist signed the poem so I assume he wrote it. Today I met his brother Noel a wood sculptor, in an art class taught by another local artist, Juan Navarro. (The Cultural Center pays him so the lessons are free!) When Noel told me his name I asked is he knew Efren and learned it’s his bro. So the same day I posted the poem, Noel will send it to the artist who did the Muro! That’s the way it works here. Did you ever get my letter?

  • i also have these photos and started translating the poem but didn’t finish it. Maybe now that I have this reminder I will.

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