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?
- from "Collected Poems" (1997), by Robert Hayden
Submitted by Beth Harbaugh:
I used this poem often in my poetry unit when I taught 8th grade English. It brings up a lot of imagery and discussion about what we perceive of our parents and what we learn about them as we grow older.