The death of a parent is such a pivotal moment in one’s life that many people turn to poetry – for the first time in their lives – to try to express their feelings and emotions in a poem. This was the case with me, after the death of my father. I had never even thought about writing poetry before. I had always wanted to be a writer, but spent years trying to write novels, under the delusion that I was potentially a great writer of fiction. After my father’s death, I had the idea for a poem, and this was to act as a kind of “trigger” for me. I now find myself startled by the fact that, in the years since his death, I have written over 200 poems.
I often go back to my early poems, and usually end up revising them or completely re-writing them. When I looked at “The Last Saturday” a few days ago, I realised, to my surprise, that I could see no way to improve it. So here it is, in its original state:
THE LAST SATURDAY:
“Open the curtains”. My father’s voice.
In its pomp, a shout seared eardrums,
a sneeze violated sound barriers.
The effortless, lusty bellow drowned-out
“Songs of Praise” with hymns remembered,
faultlessly, from Sunday – Schooldays.
Now, it croaks, quavers. The vibrant reed
now a dry, withered husk.
I open the curtains – gingerly.
Outside, it is Saturday morning.
In this sitting room, my father is dying.
There must be no intrusion, no interface
between the two worlds – or so I think.
But: “Go on!” The voice entreats.
He needs more light. More of the life
that bustles outside.
I pull the curtains wider. “Go on!”
Wider still. I think: How unlike we are.
How my life has been filtered
through closed curtains. How he has
always wanted more light, more life,
“That’s it”. The voice now a whisper.
His exhausted eyes close.
How poor a son I have been.
How it is too late for me to change