Showing 1281 - 1286 of 1286 annotations tagged with the keyword "Family Relationships"
Summary:The narrator descends from the hospital room where his father lies dying. As he leaves the hospital and crosses the street, he scans the tiers of hospital windows. He imagines "dozens of pale hands . . . waving," but he knows that his father is behind one pane, which is "the bright, erased blankness of nothing." He suddenly has a revelation that he and his father truly recognize one another, that neither is afraid for the other. He carries this vision away in "amazement."
Summary:I have never written against the dead, says the narrator, but in this instance, the death of her grandfather, she must. Why? Because, ominously, "he taught my father/ how to do what he did to me." The poem moves from a startlingly literal image of nursing the nameless dead, to the pocketwatch which was sent as a memento after this particular death, to specific personal memories of mistreatment at the hands of the grandfather. The narrator cannot regret this death.
The narrator has experienced an epiphany in which she can understand objectively, even forgive, her father’s abusive behavior toward her. She has seen in her mind’s eye her father as a child, in the bleak household where "something was / not given to you, or something was / taken from you . . . "; she wishes that the love she feels for her father now could have nurtured him as a child and saved him from becoming an alcoholic adult who mistreated his family.
The narrator observes how her dying father is changing as he dies. She experiences the process as if she were giving cosmic birth to him,
and as if she could protect him in the safety of her womb.
This dead body is to be treated with respect, not to be left alone or to be donated to the anatomy lab, or for organ transplantation. For the narrator, there is little difference between this body of her dead father and the unconscious body she remembers from so much of her childhood. She cannot make the distinction emotionally between the dead and the living father, " . . . this was the one I had known anyway, / this man made of rich substance."
A powerful lament over a father’s wasted life, and the "purgatory" of living in a household dominated by alcoholism and marital discord. Strong and graphic language weaves a complex web of conflicting emotions: hatred and self-hatred, scorn and pity, condemnation and forgiveness.