Poetry Sunday: Those Winter Sundays

Remembering my father, dead now these seventeen years, on this Father's Day.

I grew up in a farm house that had only fireplaces and the kitchen stove for heat in the winter. And those winters could get very cold indeed.

My father always rose early on those cold days and started fires in the fireplaces and the stove to warm the house, and by the time I got up, the house was toasty, proof against the outside chill.

I never thought to thank him for that service or for any of the others that he performed routinely. I took it all for granted, as selfish children do. It was only much later in life that I began to understand some of the sacrifices he had made for me.

Here's a poem by Robert Hayden that commemorates just such a father.   

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden1913 - 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? 

If you are lucky enough to still have your father with you, remember to thank him this Father's Day and every day for all that he has done for you.


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