One of my favorite poems—and, as my daughter pointed out, shaving-related
I’ve always loved this poem and it’s one of the new I know by heart but I hadn’t thought of the shaving connection since I learned it before I resumed traditional wetshaving. (I once went on a kick of memorizing one poem a week, which went on for a while.) Donald Justice looms large in my legend because it was he who admitted me to the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa (whose name at the time was State University of Iowa).
Men at Forty
Donald Justice (b. 1925)
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
The face of the boy as he practices trying
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.
Another one I liked and memorized is James Dickey’s The Heaven of Animals.