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Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden

April 19, 1998

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 "Poet's Choice," edited by Robert Hass (Ecco: 224 pp., $23). "Those Winter Sundays" will be read by Willie Foster at The Favorite Poem Project at the Festival of Books, Sunday at 11 a.m.

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