My First Poem

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,
for me.

“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
for him.

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