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Alumni Essays

No Death

Ira HarrisonIra Harrison

THERE IS NO DEATH
JUST A LITTLE SLEEP
FROM WHICH THERE IS NO WAKING.
NO SCREAMING DIAL!
TO BREAK THE WHILE,
OR SIT THE EAR AH ACHING.

THERE IS NO DEATH
NO ONE TO FEAR,
NO STAIR STEPS DOWN TO TREAD,
BUT YAWNING SLEEP
AN UNSHAKEN REST
IN A DUSK, CLAY-COVERED BED.

THERE IS NO DEATH
JUST GENTLE BALM
AND PEACE NO MORTAL KNOWS—
SO LIVE A LIFE,
AND WHEN HE’S TIRED
TIME
WILLS YOU SWEET REPOSE.

Reflections on the death of my mother, Sarah Louisa Richardson. March 12,1917–August 9,1942.

Published in MOTHERS, BEAUTIFUL BLACK WOMEN, and B.A.A.D. (BEAUTIFUL AFRICAN-AMERICAN DAUGHTERS).

At the dinner table when I was nine, my mother grabbed her stomach, grimaced and cried, and was rushed to the hospital. I never saw her alive again.

Ira E. Harrison, PhD, MPH '71

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