12. My Funeral: Hazim Hickmet

I found this when looking for poems about health care. It presents a wonderful lesson on perspective, and can be used in contrast to a number of Emily Dickinson poems (i.e., “I Heard a Fly Buzz, Then I Died”). As it is Turkish, it offers a clear multicultural perspective, but the physical reality of a dead body and the curiosity of the children are universal. Indeed, “This American Life” offers a great audio called “Crime Scene” about a person who’s job it is to clean up after a crime scene. There are so many ways to use this poem.

My Funeral
Hazim Hickmet

Will my funeral start out from our courtyard?
How will you get me down from the third floor?
The coffin won’t fit in the elevator,
and the stairs are awfully narrow.

Maybe there’ll be sun knee-deep in the yard, and pigeons,
maybe snow filled with the cries of children,
maybe rain with its wet asphalt.
And the trash cans will stand in the courtyard as always.

If, as is the custom here, I’m put in the truck face open,
a pigeon might drop something on my forehead: it’s good luck.
Band or no band, the children will come up to me—
they’re curious about the dead.

Our kitchen window will watch me leave.
Our balcony will see me off with the wash on the line.
In this yard I was happier than you’ll ever know.
Neighbors, I wish you all long lives.


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