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Philip Levine - Those Were The Days

The sun came up before breakfast, 
perfectly round and yellow, and we 
dressed in the soft light and shook out 
our long blond curls and waited 
for Maid to brush them flat and place 
the part just where it belonged. 
We came down the carpeted stairs 
one step at a time, in single file, 
gleaming in our sailor suits, two 
four year olds with unscratched knees 
and scrubbed teeth. Breakfast came 
on silver dishes with silver covers 
and was set in table center, and Mother 
handed out the portions of eggs 
and bacon, toast and juice. We could 
hear the ocean, not far off, and boats 
firing up their engines, and the shouts 
of couples in white on the tennis courts. 
I thought, Yes, this is the beginning 
of another summer, and it will go on 
until the sun tires of us or the moon 
rises in its place on a silvered dawn 
and no one wakens. My brother flung 
his fork on the polished wooden floor 
and cried out, "My eggs are cold, cold!" 
and turned his plate over. I laughed 
out loud, and Mother slapped my face, 
and when I cleared my eyes the table 
was bare of even a simple white cloth, 
and the steaming plates had vanished. 
My brother said, "It's time," and we 
struggled into our galoshes and snapped 
them up, slumped into our pea coats, 
one year older now and on our way 
to the top through the freezing rains 
of the end of November, lunch boxes 
under our arms, tight fists pocketed, 
out the door and down the front stoop, 
heads bent low, tacking into the wind.

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Those Were The Days - Comments and Information

Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: Those Were The Days
Poem of the Day: Apr 27 2011
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