My Uncle Was a Policeman

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.
from Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

In the faded Polaroid colors of the early 1970s
he sat quietly eating at the Thanksgiving table.
The guests hadn’t arrived.

My aunt called from the kitchen,
sounding concerned, because he wasn’t –
asking for the third time if he wanted coffee.
“It’ll just keep me awake,” he said.
“I’ll see everyone tomorrow morning.”

There is no dramatic turning to this story,
no subsequent events to make it tragic,
and I doubt anyone else remembers.

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