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By 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 Bio

Audre Lorde
The impassioned poetry of Audre Lorde grew out of her keen sense of injustice—racial as well as gender—and a strong desire to break through silence and politeness to unafraid illumination. Born in New York City to West Indian parents, she turned in her later work to African sources, emphasizing its oral roots and finding a model in the matriarchies of that continent for her emergent lesbian and communal consciousness. See More By This Poet

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