Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NPM: Those Winter Sundays

Vlaho Bukovak, Father's Portrait

Poetry can be a reminder. It might tell us something we already know, but tells it in such a way that it touches upon things strange to our experience even as it conjures the familiar.

It can also remind us of practical things. I really need to write my father and there's no excuse for not having done it sooner.

Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden (1913-1980)

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

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