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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

30 Days of Love: ‘love’s austere and lonely offices’

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Today’s post is short but sweet, and courtesy of one of the best poets I’ve ever loved: Robert Hayden.  At times in my life I have been without words: desperately lonely, or bitterly angry, or lost in one of those interior labyrinths we all know so well. Hayden has always been there before me, to get me through.

Today, as I thought about love, community, and writing, he was there for me once again. The prompt for 30 Days of Love is to write our stories: of ourselves, of now, of our community. Hayden did all that, far better than I can dream of doing. His work memorialises  both day-to-day life and  great historic tragedies, as well as the injustice rained upon a black man in mid-century America. All of these are fitting, given today’s prompt.

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The poem below is one that reminds — every time I read it — of how little we know about love.

Those Winter Sundays ~ Robert Hayden

Sundays too
my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blue black 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?

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