If Death Comes Knocking

by Kimberly Tan
Issue: Ricercari (Summer 2012)

Promise that you’ll be there
to send me away. Hold my withered palms
in yours, and blanket the casket with flowers,
purple like the ones that littered the
field where we spent our Saturday afternoons.
Don’t let people wear black at the funeral,
you know how much I hated the darkness.
They can come dressed
in dazzling golds and vivid crimsons,
colors so vibrant you’ll swear
a phoenix just re-spawned.

Quit your job—you’ll object, I know,
but I’ve always hated the image of you
in that cramped, cluttered cubicle,
shifting papers and typing memos,
you don’t wear conformity well.
Don’t continue the way we passed the last 25 years,
languishing indoors behind closed blinds
while the seasons whirled by outside.
Instead, leave the country.
Venice is supposed to be gorgeous
all year round
(though spring especially),
so try to catch the first flight there, and
for just once in your life, watch
the sun set, enjoy
the scarlet skies succumbing to inky night.

When your voyage ends,
and you return, our house should
look the same, albeit an unkempt lawn
and peeling paint.
People can take anything they want, except
the Rembrandt over the fireplace,
the mugs that held
our morning tea, and the grand piano,
but make them swear to use
what they take, don’t let it go to waste.
Donate the rest to charity.
Then let the house overflow
with works ripe with ancient warriors
and fallen heroes
(promise me you’ll read
them every day).

And every year, I hope you remember to
visit me, just once, maybe twice,
and watch the daybreak
beside me, dew quenching
the lips of an impatient earth,
flowering shoots giving way
to fragrance reminiscent
of years past.