Donald Justice

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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.




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