Weekends, my dad plowed
through paperwork, pruned trees,
tinkered with the mower, fixed
bicycles, toasters, skinned knees.
I never thanked him.
Dark winter mornings,
I’d wake to hail pinging
on the window and find
him gone for work.
My long silence followed his
late nights at the legislature,
his eternal naval reserve weeks.
Well I knew, well I learned,
of love’s endless, lonely hours.
Copyright 2021 Brenda Davis Harsham
Notes: Happy Father’s Day to my dad, to whom I dedicate the above poem, My Long Silence, and for whom my appreciation grows and grows now that I’m parenting myself. Happy Father’s Day to my husband. And to all the many wonderful dads out there. I wrote this after reading Robert Hayden’s wonderful poem:
Those Winter Sundays
— Robert Hayden
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?