Poetic Words: Donald Justice

Starting the week off with a poem by the great, if little-known, Donald Justice.

Encountered in the Poetry Foundation’s 100 Poems, 100 Years volume.

MEN AT FORTY

Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it moving
Beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices tying
His father’s tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.

—Donald Justice

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 8.12.02 AM

Lee Friedlander’s photo “Haverstraw, New York.”

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