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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1On Holy Week, a sequence of poems for radio

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2Examination Centre

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3Muse

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4Peelin Orange

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5The Pond

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6Mariners

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7Valley Prince

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8Dadd, Poor Dadd

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9Tutorial

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10Journey into the Interior

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11Cave

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12Windscreen

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13Stripper

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14Shadows

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15Birthdays

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16Literary Evening, Jamaica

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17Toasting a Muse

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18Gaffes

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19To an Expatriate Friend

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20To the Unknown Non-Combatant

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21Grounation

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22Cabal

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23The Roaches

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24Case-History, Jamaica

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25Nursery

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26Afro-Saxon

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27For Consciousness

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28Jamaica 1979

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29Meeting

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30Data

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31Dreamtime

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32Short Story

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33Walk Good

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34Moment of Truth

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35Persephone

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36Narcissus

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37A Voyage

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38The Lovers

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39Critic

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40Peacetime

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41Family Pictures

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42Sister

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43Seen

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44Connection

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45Pussycat

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46Version

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47Memento

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48In the Garden

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49Eve

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50Happy Hour

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51Casanova

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52North Coast Hotel

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53Little Boy Crying

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54Proposition One

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55Togetherness

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56Give T'anks

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57Love Is

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58There was a Young Poet

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59Departure Lounge

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60To a Crippled Schoolmaster

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61The Day My Father Died

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62Granny

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63Hey, Ref!

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64Outing

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65Postcard

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66Pre-Carnival Party

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67Danse Macabre

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68Diptych

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69Garden

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70Birthday Poem

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71Terminal

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72My Rodney Poem

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73Historian

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74Checking Out

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75Palimpsest

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76A Chant Against Death

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Books by Mervyn Morris