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?
Copyright © 1966 by Robert Hayden, from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
Eight deer on the slope in the summer morning mist. The night sky blue. Me like a mare let out to pasture. The Tao does not console me. I was given the Way in the milk of childhood. Breathing it waking and sleeping. But now there is no amazing smell of sperm on my thighs, no spreading it on my stomach to show pleasure. I will never give up longing. I will let my hair stay long. The rain proclaims these trees, the trees tell of the sun. Let birds, let birds. Let leaf be passion. Let jaw, let teeth, let tongue be between us. Let joy. Let entering. Let rage and calm join. Let quail come. Let winter impress you. Let spring. Allow the ocean to wake in you. Let the mare in the field in the summer morning mist make you whinny. Make you come to the fence and whinny. Let birds.
From All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems by Linda Gregg. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Gregg. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.