Today's poem is by David Bottoms

Holidays and Sundays

They'd settle in our living room, cross their legs—three or four uncles,
my old man. They'd stare at each other
and pull at their ears while the women cleared the dishes.

Okay, maybe somebody would mention rain
and draw a nod from across the room, or a ball game
that had gone into extra innings,

but mostly there was silence, as though they'd all agreed
the world was beyond comment.

I grew up thinking this was how men behaved, holding
their thoughts close to their chests. A compliment, sure, at dinner—
the beans, the potatoes—but that was it.

Nobody fired off a joke, nobody lobbed a war story
over anybody's bow. Not the tiniest pinch
of philosophy, politics, theology.

Only that slow retreat into calculated silence,
which wasn't exactly boredom,
but more the silence you got at church or funerals,

which was the way you faced the sacred, or death,
or that inscrutable laughter from the kitchen.

Copyright © 2009 David Bottoms All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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