Father Son and Holy Ghost

By Audre Lorde 1934–1992 Audre Lorde
I have not ever seen my father’s grave.

Not that his judgment eyes
have been forgotten
nor his great hands’ print
on our evening doorknobs
            one half turn each night
            and he would come
            drabbled with the world’s business   
            massive and silent
            as the whole day’s wish   
            ready to redefine
            each of our shapes
but now the evening doorknobs   
wait    and do not recognize us   
as we pass.

Each week a different woman   
regular as his one quick glass
each evening
pulls up the grass his stillness grows   
calling it weed.
Each week    a different woman   
has my mother’s face
and he
who time has    changeless
must be amazed
who knew and loved
but one.

My father died in silence   
loving creation
and well-defined response   
he lived    still judgments   
on familiar things
and died    knowing
a January 15th that year me.

Lest I go into dust
I have not ever seen my father’s grave.

Audre Lorde, “Father Son and Holy Ghost” from Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1997 by The Audre Lorde Estate. Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1997)

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Poet Audre Lorde 1934–1992

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Living, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

 Audre  Lorde


A self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing the injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Her poetry, and “indeed all of her writing,” according to contributor Joan Martin in Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation, “rings with passion, sincerity, perception, and depth of feeling.” Concerned with modern . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Living, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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