Hayden uses metaphors in the poem that match the winter cold. The metaphors are implied more than they are spoken. As an example, the father in the poem “got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold” (3). The poem then states about the boy, “I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking” (6). When these two sentences are analyzed together, the “blueblack cold” (3) of winter is a possible metaphor for an abusive relationship between father and son. The words “blue black” are often associated with “black and blue” in terms of a bruise or an injury. The “cold splintering, breaking” (6) could be a metaphor that is not only about the weather, but the implication that the relationship between the father and his son is also cold, splintering and breaking. Because the boy states that when he wakes up in the morning, he is “fearing the chronic angers of that house” (9), the reader can assume that the boy is abused in some way. There may not be physical abuse at this time because the father’s hands are “cracked” (3) “from labor in the weekday whether” (4) and it would not be comfortable for him to physically hurt his son but the emotional abuse may have been a part of their everyday life.
It appears that there is no mother in this family and the reason that the boy and his father are reacting to each other as they are could have something to do with the mother’s absence. The coldness that they share could be their response to grieving at the loss of the mother.
This poem could also be one of the poet’s members. According to C. Ekrem Teymur, Robert Hayden grew up in a Detroit ghetto and he spent is time with his parents, but also with a foster family that lived next door to his family (par. 1). This could have been a reflection of what happened to him in his past. The title of the poem suggests that “those” were the days that he is remembering, and