Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden (The Norton Anthology)
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?
We studied this poem in my American Literature class last week. I immediately thought of Tom (my husband) and the way that he rises early to make big, special breakfasts for us. We sleep cozy in our beds while he cooks, sets the table, and even begins part of the clean-up process. When everything is prepared, he wakes us.
Though the father in this poem seems ONLY to show his love with the things he does for his children, Tom is also an openly affectionate father / husband who tells us he loves us too.