when you have forgotten Sunday: the love story
By Gwendolyn Brooks
—And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday,
And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday—
When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed,
Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon
Looking off down the long street
Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation
And nothing-I-have-to-do and I’m-happy-why?
When you have forgotten that, I say,
And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell,
And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang;
And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner,
That is to say, went across the front room floor to the ink-spotted table in the southwest corner
To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles
Or chicken and rice
And salad and rye bread and tea
And chocolate chip cookies—
I say, when you have forgotten that,
When you have forgotten my little presentiment
That the war would be over before they got to you;
And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed into bed,
And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end
Then gently folded into each other—
When you have, I say, forgotten all that,
Then you may tell,
Then I may believe
You have forgotten me well.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Come Sunday, by Duke Ellington
Early Sunday Morning
By Edward Hirsch
I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I’m one of those chumps.
No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.
It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up
early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.
And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sunday in Brooklyn by Elie Siegmeister
By Chard DeNiord
The nurse calls to tell me on Sunday evenings
how he’s doing.
How he’s holding his own in front
of the window with a thousand channels behind
the one that saves his screen with snow, fish houses,
How the days hang above the ice as vast
recycled pages on which he writes in invisible ink.
How the sun arcs across the sky, then breaks like a plate
above the horizon.
How the temperature drops
below zero at dusk, then continues to fall till morning.
In this way she teaches me how to speak to him in his sleep
at his home in Minnesota, which is the same, she says,
as talking to a friend you’ve never met, but grown close to
nonetheless from hearing his voice.
I hear the snow
falling as she holds the phone outside the window.
Silence is the sound of snow falling on snow, I think
as I listen to the flakes inside the air before she closes
“I’m thinking of walleye in their sleep,”
I tell my father.
“Of catching them as they dream,
then throwing them back in the hole I drilled by hand
with the auger you gave me as a child, whose handle is stained
with blood from my turning it so many times into the ice
of Bad Medicine.”
I wait for her voice to return, then say,
“Just this for now since any more would disappear the lake
inside his head on which he builds a house for us to fish
throughout the winter.”
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: String Quintet in C (Adagio) by Franz Schubert
Life of Sundays
By Rodney Jones
Down the street, someone must be praying, and though I don’t
Go there anymore, I want to at times, to hear the diction
And the tone, though the English pronoun for God is obsolete—
What goes on is devotion, which wouldn’t change if I heard:
The polished sermon, the upright’s arpeggios of vacant notes.
What else could unite widows, bankers, children, and ghosts?
And those faces are so good as they tilt their smiles upward
To the rostrum that represents law, and the minister who
Represents God beams like the white palm of the good hand
Of Christ raised behind the baptistry to signal the multitude,
Which I am not among, though I feel the abundance of calm
And know the beatitude so well I do not have to imagine it,
Or the polite old ones who gather after the service to chat,
Or the ritual linen of Sunday tables that are already set.
More than any other days, Sundays stand in unvarying rows
That beg attention: there is that studied verisimilitude
Of sanctuary, so even mud and bitten weeds look dressed up
For some eye in the distant past, some remote kingdom
Where the pastures are crossed by thoroughly symbolic rivers.
That is why the syntax of prayers is so often reversed,
Aimed toward the dead who clearly have not gone ahead
But returned to prior things, a vista of angels and sheep,
A desert where men in robes and sandals gather by a tree.
Hushed stores, all day that sense a bell is about to ring—
I recognized it, waking up, before I weighed the bulk of news
Or saw Saturday night’s cars parked randomly along the curb,
And though I had no prayer, I wanted to offer something
Or ask for something, perhaps out of habit, but as the past
Must always be honored unconsciously, formally, and persists
On this first and singular day, though I think of it as last.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: String Quartet No. 1 (Adagio) by Charles Ives
Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther
By A. E. Stallings
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?
Those Winter Sundays
By 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?