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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 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.

-Donald Justice


This poem seems like it’s about a man going through a midlife crisis. He is reminiscing on his time as a child and learning simple things like tying a tie and being able to slam doors without worrying about waking children up. The use of imagery made a very clear picture of what the man is going through. I think the author found a classy way of complaining about life. Justice is good at making his point clear in a few lines. If this poem were any longer, I’m afraid the subject would get repetitive and old.

Reviewing the poem again, it makes me think that this is a man looking back at his life and all the things he has done and accomplished, and what it has made him become. In the first stanza, I think Justice is alluding to the fact that during this stage of a man’s life he begins to close the doors to things in his past, or move on from a way of life that a younger, different version of himself would live. The tone seems to be more nostalgic than anything. Overall, this poem flows very peacefully and was a pleasure to read the second time around when I had a better understanding of how to analyze poems.

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