Two Nourishing Poems

Art nourishes my soul. It’s something I have known from an early age. My mother saw to it that my brother & I were able to attend symphonies, art exhibits, plays, and poetry readings during our childhood. I could lose myself in playing the piano or creating a piece of art. (I never excelled at music, but I am still a great appreciator.)

When Scott & I lived in Kansas City, we sometimes attended poetry readings at a nearby college called Rockhurst. We once had the pleasure of hearing a man named Li-Young Lee, a brilliant poet. Born to Chinese parents, he has lived in the United States for some time. I love the Asian flavor of his writing, and his tender remembrances of family & food. I hope you enjoy these two poems by Li-Young Lee, both taken from the book Rose.

FROM BLOSSOMS

From blossoms comes

this brown paper bag of peaches

we bought from a boy

at the bend in the road where we turned toward

signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,

from sweet fellowship in the bins,

comes nectar at the roadside, succulent

peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,

comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,

to carry within us an orchard, to eat

not only the skin, but the shade,

not only the sugar, but the days, to hold

the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into

the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live

as if death were nowhere

in the background; from joy

to joy to joy, from wing to wing,

from blossom to blossom to

impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

THE GIFT

To pull the metal splinter from my palm

my father recited a story in a low voice.

I can’t remember the tale,

but hear his voice still, a well

of dark water, a prayer.

And I recall his hands,

two measures of tenderness

he laid against my face,

the flames of discipline

he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon

you would have arrived here,

where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down

so carefully she feels no pain.

Watch as I lift the splinter out.

I was seven when my father

took my hand like this,

and I did not hold that shard

between my fingers and think,

Metal that will bury me,

christen it Little Assassin,

Ore Going Deep for My Heart.

And I did not lift up my wound and cry,

Death visited here!

I did what a child does

when he’s given something to keep.

I kissed my father.

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