national poetry month, day 19.

I came across this poem through an exchange on Twitter last week, and I love it. The last two lines seem incredibly familiar, and I can’t decide if that’s because I’ve read it somewhere before or because they are so exactly what they ought to be that they seem to have always existed. This is via Joe Saunders, who did a very lovely blog post a while back to go with it. You should read it. You can also listen to the author reading this poem here.

Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden

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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