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?
Glad you posted this. I have a vivid picture in my mind of my dad waking up at 4 in the morning to put another log in the wood burning stove that heated our whole house. It never occurred to me until I was an adult that he must have done that every night.
You brought this poem to my attention a few years ago, Amy. I thought of you as I set it up. I’ve also appreciated a few of Robert Hayden’s poems since. I have a collection of his I’ll get to by this winter, Angle of Ascent. Thanks for commenting.