I Would

If I’d had the time or the presence of mind
I would have bought you a coffin
of the finest wood from the
I would have bought you a coffin with
painted flowers,
with a lid
and with room for you to lie.
But the only thought was of losing you.
I would have washed your body
slowly, lovingly—
one last time.
I would have dressed you
as you deserved,
laid your head on a pillow;
shrouded you in silk.
It wasn’t to be.
I would have taken you where the trees
hang low,
bowed with flowers…
my last respect.
Not to be.
Instead I wait,
squat by your side
a rough hewn box is all you’re allowed…
but I stay with you.
And when I’m told
take the widow’s role—
touch the flame to your shoulder
and watch you burn.








More about this poem
I saw a coffin shop along the northern end of Sisowath in Phnom Penh that had the most beautiful wood coffins painted with flowers. Maybe this poem should be called ‘I Wish…’ It is all the things I would like to have done had things been different. The last stanza refers to the fact that a family member sets fire to the body as it is slid into the cremation oven at the pagoda.
© Ammie-oy 2010


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s