For the Fathers Work that We Forget

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{Dwayne Betts}

There are poems that last because they sound good, and then there are poems that last because they say something that we need to hear. I've always been a fan of Robert Hayden - but this poem in particular reminds me of the importance of fatherhood. Just say the last two lines to yourself again and again, and though it's about fathers - the lines apply fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, lovers. Read it. Then read it again.


Those Winter Sundays

BY ROBERT E. 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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