A true account of the week or so following my brother's passing. For my brother, Tsen Fong, (1998-2003).

The Presence

When bleak despair enclosed our flat
And mother wept for her lost child,
My father and I tried hard to forget
The grief, to remember the times he smiled
And laughed and showed us pictures drawn
With unsteady little toddler hands
Now so still. For he had gone
Away into the sunset lands

Where none of us could follow him
Just stand and weep and call his name
And wish again for dreams so dim
But that was when the phonecalls came,
The incessant ringing intercom,
That, when answered, there was no one there;
It started from my mother's room
Then moved to mine, then everywhere,
We thought it strange and eerie too
Until my mother thought to say,
"My child, remember, I love you,"
The phonecalls stopped right then that day.

But there were other things as well
Like how my dog would tilt her head
And sit and wag just once her tail
At the empty spot where he ate his bread
Or how the doors would open though
Shut and locked I was sure they'd been
And I would frown and squint as though
I could see what needed to be seen.
But when his week with us was done
The intercom did not ring, the doors
Remained shut, like my parents' son,
My brother no longer walked the floors.

Although he has been gone so long
And we have moved to another house
The memories of him remain as strong
As though seven years had not come to pass
But sometimes around the seventh month
When our 'brothers' and 'sisters' come out to play
The intercom rings beside the hearth
And when there's no one there I'll say,

"Tsen Fong, I love you."

- The seventh month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar (usually falls about October) is when the Hungry Ghost Festival is held. People place offerings by the roadside for the Wandering ghosts, and burn incense and paper offerings for ancestors or departed family members in the house. Children aren't advised to go out after dark.
- The Chinese believe that after someone has passed away, their spirit lingers for a little while to watch over their family. Usually, after a week, the family holds a small dinner for the departed member and his two guardians (sent to guide him), and will then close themselves in a room to wait until midnight. We did this. Arranged it perfectly, too. When we came out, things had been moved though no one had touched it.

Poetry by Mklnay
Read 660 times
Written on 2010-11-22 at 02:14

Tags Death 

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text

Ferenc Inigo Beck
Beautifully rendered. A tribute.

John Ashleigh
I sympathise, my friend. This tribute to your brother is outstandingly emotional, and very much comforting. It must have been hard - but thankyou for sharing.


countryfog The PoetBay support member heart!
In my younger days I travelled often to Hong Kong and Taipei on business and had many good friends there. I did all I could to learn about customs and beliefs and many of my own are because of what I learned. Those who have left us are never truly gone as long as we hold them in our hearts, as you do your brother.