When It’s Time – a poem by David Peterson

When It’s Time

for Karen

Death should not be antiseptic. It should not
smell of bleach or antibacterial soap. It should not sound
of monitors and alarms
…….and with readouts from sterile machines.

If I die in the morning, I want the smell of coffee
and waffles and of bacon sizzling in a pan. I want the
sound of overlapping voices, plates, cups and glasses clinking
with some laughing.………….and some crying.

If I die mid-day, I want the smell of mowed grass
and sunscreen and a pot roast being started. I want the
sound of children playing, adults consoling and reminiscing
and with some game or match playing on the TV.

If I die in the evening, I want the smell of bourbon,
maybe a sweet-smelling pipe, and of a bouquet of flowers
…….brought in…….from the garden that day.
I want the sounds of conversation between family and friends,
with music…………..and of doorbells announcing callers.

If I die at night, I want the sound of meditation
and prayer, with the gentle humming of intimates.
I want to be lifted up…………..while being let go,
…….and to feel the embrace and caress and breath of my love.


David Peterson is new to writing poetry, taking up voracious reading and now the writing of poetry during his wife’s 85 day hospitalization following a botched surgery. David a retired public school teacher and administrator who, with his super-hero wife, lives north of Phoenix.


  1. mkenmcd says:

    Love it David and, on behalf of Karen and from me, thank you for this.


  2. Well done! Brought to mind a statement of Montaigne’s in the Essays: “Je veux que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux.” [I want death to find me planting my cabbages.]


  3. Soosi says:

    Dave, what a beautiful tribute, so well captured. I am certainly with you in spirit. I am sorry to learn your wife and you had a hospital experience like the one Ed and I had. It certainly rearranges one’s priorities. I am glad you are enjoying retirement.


  4. Anthony Tang says:

    So beautiful and inspiring!


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