Monday, November 06, 2006

These Winter Mondays


When I was a child, my favorite poem was Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays." (I've copied it under the Benedictions and Maledictions section.) I used to recite it to myself, even though I didn't entirely understand it, especially the lines about "love's austere and lonely offices." And living in such a warm climate, I couldn't imagine anything more exotic than having to wake up and build a fire. Of course, Hayden lived in Detroit most of his life and such cold was no exotic fiction to him. And waking up fearing the chronic angers in a house, I imagine, is not an exotic fiction for anyone. I've always had a low-level anxiety about morning, the time when your bad dreams bleed into your waking life, when the demands of the day seem particularly painful. And I contend, rather unoriginally, that Monday is vile. Once a friend of mine had two eggs crack open in her purse (she carried them to school each day to put underneath her eyes to alleviate dark circles, a trick I'd adopt these days if I ever bought eggs) and said, "Fuck, it's Monday all day, isn't it?"

So this one is for you, the tired reader with nothing clean to wear, a gas tank almost on empty, nothing to eat in the house. You manage to find something that will do to wear even if it doesn't exactly match, you get to where you're going, even if you have to stop at the risk of being late. You buy crap out of the vending machine that never even heard of the food pyramid. You do it because you have to, because sacrifice becomes something else when you draw attention to it. The car takes a while to heat up, but that's fine. You lay your head on the steering wheel. Who says there's no rest for the weary?

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Where am I and how the fuck do I get to Detroit?" Richard Pryor

Cocktail Hour

Drinking music suggestion: DeStilj White Stripes

Benedictions and Maledictions

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

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

11 comments:

Mantovani said...

Love is a many splendoured thing.

Special said...

Is that Hayden guy related to Hayden's Fairy Review?

Sheila said...

ahh love... so complicated and yet so simple....

Bird on a Wire said...

That makes me wish I lived in a colder place. I really want that time to myself, waiting for the car to heat up.

Paul said...

O Mighty Isis thatonenailsitright onthetoemydayexactly Rock On Cajun Q, Foxy Lady R2 C2!

JR's Thumbprints said...

In the joint, doing time, Monday's just another day.

Laura said...

Well, this Monday sucked butt for me. I like the post though.

Tim said...

What a great poem! Things a parent does out of love for his children frequently go unnoticed as such, but he keeps doing them just the same. I can look back at the sacrifices my parents made for me and the special things they did which, at the time, I paid little attention to. They didn't ask for anything in return, not even love, but I think they knew that in time I would understand why they did the things they did.
Beautiful picture to go along with a wonderful post.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,
lovely post and view and brilliant choice of poem. Thank you for such a wonderful consolation for the always difficult Mondays. To your bravery and strength of Catholic faith, Bravo!

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Oddball said...

For some weird reason, I love Mondays. I think I'm positively exhilirated by the start of something new, including the start of each new week. How weird is that?