Friday, June 08, 2007

Poetry Friday: Two Poems for My Father

With Memorial Day in the recent past and Father’s Day on the horizon, my thoughts turned recently to memories of my father, a veteran of World War II who passed away in 1984. Born in Poland in 1912, my father was about eighteen months old when his parents left their homeland to come to the United States. My grandparents left my father behind with his grandmother. He did not arrive in America and see his parents again until he was eight years old.

I have selected two poems by Li-Young Lee, one of my favorite poets, to post today in memory of my father—who was known to his family and friends as Ziggy.

by Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

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 thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

The first and last stanzas of LITTLE FATHER
by Li-Young Lee

I buried my father
in the sky.
Since then, the birds
clean and comb him every morning
and pull the blanket up to his chin
every night…

I buried my father in my heart.
Now he grows in me, my strange son,
my little root who won’t drink milk,
little pale foot sunk in unheard-of night,
little clock spring newly wet
in the fire, little grape, parent to the future
wine, a son the fruit of his own son,
little father I ransom with my life.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader today get into summer poetry with Poetry Friday: Summersaults and Lemonade Sun.


joyce said...

Wow, Elaine, I love this poetry. Thanks for leading me to this poet!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I love Li-Young Lee's poetry! I especially like his collection entitled ROSE. "From Blossoms" and "The Weight of Sweetness" are two of my other favorite poems by Lee. They can be found in ROSE--as can "The Gift."