If Death Comes Knocking by Kimberley Tan

Swear 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.

Let them come dressed

In dazzling golds and vivid crimsons,

colors so vibrant you’d swear

a phoenix just re-spawned.


Quit your job—you’ll object, I know,

but I always hated the image of you

in that cramped, cluttered cubicle,

shifting papers and typing memos,

you don’t wear conformity well.

Leave the country.

Venice is supposed to be gorgeous

all year round

(though spring especially),

so catch the first flight there, and

for just once in your life,

see the sun set, enjoy

the scarlet skies succumb to inky night.


When your voyage ends,

go back to the house, it should

look the same, albeit an unkempt lawn

and peeling paint.

Let people take anything, except

the Rembrandt over the fireplace,

the mugs that held

our morning tea, and the grand piano.

Make them promise to use what

they take, don’t let it go to waste.

Donate the rest to charity.

Then let the house overflow

with magazines, essays,

novels, stories, and poetry.

Read them every day,

(remember to smell the crisp pages first,

they always smell so lovely).


And every year, remember to

visit me, just once, maybe twice,

and we’ll watch the daybreak

together, dew quenching

the lips of an impatient earth,

flowering shoots giving way to

purple flowers,

fragrance recrudescent.