Poem by Chino Mei Beck Chung
with lyrics from “If I Die Young,” by the Band Perry
If I die young,
Bury me in satin,
Cover me in a, bed of roses,
Sink me in the river, at dawn,
Send me away with the words of a love song.
Christopher, my brother my son,
I have known you a long, long time,
When you first arrived in SF,
L O V E / H A T E tattooed on your fingers,
You made everyone call you “he.”
There was no TG community then,
Nobody knew how to understand it,
You wouldn’t let up, we called you “he.”
Then you transitioned slowly, over time,
I watched you change,
You showed me everything,
Even if I didn’t want to see it.
Then you created Tranny Fest,
I went to every film festival,
You were magnificent,
Your dark vampire eyes, fur collar,
I wanted to be you.
Then we both moved to the East Bay,
Me and my family in a big house,
You were the one person that was happy for us.
And you moved to your boat,
We would sit in the warm sun on the deck of The Defiant One,
You would make hot dogs piled high with chili and yellow cheese,
And we would listen to the water
slapping the sides, and the seagulls.
You would come to my house for
Christmas, the holidays,
This last Thanksgiving you sat in the middle of the room,
Singing Christmas songs alone,
A hollow smile.
Everybody milling around you,
Then you fell asleep on the couch.
I wish I could have reached and had you stay the night.
I feel every missed moment with you.
I remember every good time with you.
Our nights at the Oaks Club,
You loved the Fred Flintstone turkey legs,
The hand-carved corned beef,
You would pay when I was down
I would pay when you were down.
We drove to the casino one night,
I called you, “Hey you down for Thunder Valley?”
An hour later we were on our way.
I played Texas Hold Em’ and you hung out,
Not much of a gambler.
Back at the hotel you insisted on going to the pool,
The size of a Jacuzzi, I was not going,
We ended up in there talking story
Until it was dark,
My teeth chattering.
I remember your laugh,
You smiled so easily,
I watched the lines grow around your eyes
with every smile.
The way you looked right into mine,
Your face awash with light.
You were so charming,
A gentleman to the very end.
You chose the room filled with pain.
You closed the door.
The sharp knife of a short life, well
I’ve had just enough time
So put on your best, boys, and I’ll wear my pearls
What I never did is done
A penny for my thoughts, oh, no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar
They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singin’
Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin’