No one else was at the Erebus exhibition in Wellington that morning.
Just us.
My little brother sighed- man, when are we going to get some food?
He hooned around the room, making car engine noises.

That morning Dad cried, I felt like my whole being
had no other option but to hand itself over to him,
to offer nothing but solace in my silent accompaniment.

We just sat and watched as the footage played.
to me, it was like a Mission Impossible scene.
I couldn’t help but think like that,
the morning my Dad cried.

But in that stark room,
even more so in my Dad’s eyes,
the wreck that killed my great Uncle,
was purely a truth that delivers a powerful blow:

thirty years ago, thirty minutes ago, the rawness of loss never ceases
when nature is so callous,
when human lives become insignificant in the face of error.

We sat, side by side,
but a brick wall was cast between us, a novelty for my Dad and I,
or so I reckoned then.
Perhaps my eyes only opened fully the day my Dad cried:
my empathy only carried me so far,
and nostalgia could not meet me halfway.
Daddy told us that he was the messenger, the one to tell his Mum,
I pictured it all.

How much of Nana would have been taken away from her?

It was one of the biggest moments of my life,
and saying nothing to my father was the right way to respond.

I saw my Nana’s brother’s name, a stranger to me, yet blood.
His name was emblazoned with dignity in this exhibition.

The tears that are my Dad’s cause me to see
the human that is him:
the tenderness that is him.

We just sat. Then we just stood.
A flood of everything is all I have,
to describe what we felt,
the day my Dad cried.


Laura Morris

Joined April 2008

  • Artist

Artist's Description

In 1979, New Zealand’s biggest tragedy ever occurred in Antarctica when an Air New Zealand airplane crashed into Mt. Erebus and everyone on board was killed. My great uncle was on that flight, something I grew up knowing. I never knew him, but my Dad did….it’s always a turning point when you realise your parents are human…and need you as much as you need them. This poem never feels quite right, but I think that’s because it’s like trying to paint someone you love and care for so dearly….it feels like you can never truly capture them.

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