22 August 2008

On The Death Of A Father (rev)


I was schooled well before he died, able at least
to feel what others felt when their fathers were
deceased. Able but not willing and not without
despair to glimpse the man who’d hide the truth
of just how much he cared.

My argent truth was fulsome gloom, moribund
and drear, my face a patent emptiness occluding
every tear; I’d gone to view him in his bier and
hoped he wasn’t there. Driven to be reassured
with no idea of what I’d see, uncertain in my
gnawing fear, lead to where they said he rested
comfortably – a wasted corpse too small to fill
the space the giant of my admiring youth had
easily displaced; it surely wore my father’s face
disgraced in modest death – a disappointment,
a crushing jest, I knew at once it was another
in his place. The man I loved for patience and
simplicity was clearly somewhere else instead,
yet dead, yet dead, oh most implacably.

Our sombre deed that day was one and last for
our departed Dad, we wore his coffin on our
rounded shoulders to its grave, a coruscating
scar before our heavy paths, its blinding light a-
thunder in our dismal thoughts, our sight assailed
with shattered shards that blurred the metaphors
we brought to hear, the metaphors we wrought
with care, the loving icons of our youth we fraught
to share, bury with familiar treasures vested there.
I fear I did not cry that night,
I did not dare.

This dismal place I hide my grief is crowded shame,
my father would have taught me tame my trembling lips
without contempt, face far constraints tight-lipped,
remain serene; I dream how well I played his silent game
.

The years that separate me from the choke-voiced son
who spoke his Father’s eulogy with clumsy tongue
cleared the final clod of filial unease. I know my sons
as one who loves, and know and feel their love for me.
In memories of a father whom we laid to rest in
strident peace and nascent piety I see the vibrant
image of the golden ones; I so regret I never said
how much I loved you Dad, and so lament that
you, Norman Frank Luke, never spoke candidly
of how much you loved too.
© I.D. Carswell