forgiving my father

Clifton, Lucille

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Mar-18-1996


A daughter is haunted by recollections of strife between her parents, now dead. She sides with her mother in the weekly disputes over money--the overt manifestations of a difficult marital relationship and a life lived on the edge of poverty. But in the end, she recognizes that her father "was the son of a needy father" and that her parents "were each other's bad bargain, not mine."


Another powerful poem by this African-American author. The complexity of family relationships, the compounding effect of poverty, the shadows that are cast on the living from beyond the grave are simply yet eloquently laid out. It is interesting to pair this piece with Deadwater by Chana Bloch (see this database).

Primary Source

good woman: poems and a memoir, 1969-1980



Place Published

Brockport, N. Y.


1987 (paperback)