In continuation of our celebration of the theme From Asia with Love here at Gathering Books, I am sharing another poem by Li-Young Lee. In a foreword by Gerald Stern in Lee’s poetry collection, Rose, he wrote,
“What characterizes Le-Young Lee’s poetry is a certain humility, a kind of cunning, a love of plain speech, a search for wisdom and understanding—but more like a sad than a desperate search—a willingness to let the sublime enter his field of concentration… a pursuit of certain Chinese ideas, or Chinese memories, without any self-conscious ethnocentricity, and a moving personal search for redemption.”
I hope you find Lee’s words moving. Poetry Friday roundup is hosted today by the lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm.
I was tired. So I lay down.
My lids grew heavy. So I slept.
Slender memory, stay with me.
A serious man who devised complex systems of numbers and rhymes
to aid him in remembering, a man who forgot nothing, my father
would be ashamed of me.
Not because I’m forgetful,
but because there is no order
to my memory, a heap
of details, uncatalogued, illogical.
God was lonely. So he made me.
My father loved me. So he spanked me.
It hurt him to do so. He did it daily.
The earth is flat. Those who fall off don’t return.
The earth is round. All things reveal themselves to men only gradually.
I won’t last. Memory is sweet.
Even when it’s painful, memory is sweet.
Once, I was cold. So my father took off his blue sweater.