The Day My Father Died

THE DAY MY FATHER DIED

The day my father died
I could not cry;
My mother cried,
Not I.

His face on the pillow
In the dim light
Wrote mourning to me,
Black and white.

We saw him struggle,
Stiffen, relax;
The face fell empty,
Dead as wax.

I’d read of death
But never seen.
My father’s face, I swear,
Was not serene.

Topple that lie,
However appealing:
That face was absence
Of all feeling.

My mother’s tears were my tears,
Each sob shook me:
The pain of death is living,
The dead are free.

For me my father’s death
Was mother’s sorrow;
That day was her day,
Loss was tomorrow.

from I been there, sort of: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2006), copyright Mervyn Morris 2006, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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