The separation of life and death

Dad on the beach - Sept 2014

Who is that stranger in my father’s bed?
Those sunken eyes
The concave cheeks
Salted with stubble
The thinned grey hair
Plastered to a narrow skull.
I have lost the man I loved.

In truth it had been a long journey
To this resting place.
A slow stepping backwards
As memory stuttered and stalled
And confusion dampened
The flares of anger
That made strangers of us both.

You used to fill a room with smiles
(Or suck the air out of it).
How did we become so
Before the question is fully formed
The answer blurts out:
This is not death
It is life.


(My father died in February and I am still coming to terms with the loss. I don’t know what to make of it. Ours was at times an uneasy relationship; we were close and not close. I don’t want to dishonour his memory, but neither do I want to gloss over. I suspect I am not yet ready to look at it – or my own feelings – too closely.)

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3 Responses to The separation of life and death

  1. Mark Leake says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Stephen. I lost my own father last month after a very short illness. I have struggled very much to come to to terms with his passing, but also with the with the fact that he was not a perfect man, and I feel guilt for thinking along these lines when I believe others eulogise. I take solace in the fragments of past beautiful memories, but the void is palpable and frankly terrible.

  2. Jill Emery says:

    Thank you for sharing this portrait & your struggles with your loss. Your poem resonates deeply & the ending proclamation cuts deeper still.

  3. Henry says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss, Stephen.

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