The eve of Chinese New Year
is an unfortunate time to die.
Joo Peng feared her death would bring
bad luck to New Year celebrations.
Ashamed of her ill-fated life
she begged her parents to say
she lived thirty-five years
not thirty four, an unlucky number.
This night her head rests on a satin pillow.
Her parents stand dumbly beside her casket
extend numb hands to greet guests.
Joo Peng needs friends to light ritual candles
to burn great clouds of incense.
She wants them to eat boiled peanuts
sip chrysanthemum tea, play mahjong
all night to keep evil spirits away
while she prepares to leave forever.
She fears her journey to the new world
but relatives will supply a passport
a credit card, cash, all counterfeit of course.
Once in heaven she will be happy
to see familiar things: a house, a T V,
a car, a phone, even toothpaste. She trusts
her parents to find her a suitable husband,
a deceased heavenly bachelor.
The procession of priests begins,
friends yawn, orchids quiver, cymbals clash.
Her father weeps. Between her frozen lips
he places a sea green pearl.
Her mother weeps. She remembers
the expensive ginseng that failed to save her.
She strokes the embroidered silk
that hides Joo Peng’s amputated breasts.
This entry was posted on Monday, December 10th, 2012 at 9:25 pm
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