Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Le-Young Lee, "From Blossoms" "...to take what we love inside..."

I was at a book table at the Geraldine Dodge poetry festival in New Jersey. This was a while back, six or seven, could be eight years ago.  My friend Marilyn Koren pointed to one of the hundreds of books stacked on tables and said, "You have to read him."

There was no equivocation in her voice, no hint she was suggesting a good poet I could check out some time. She'd driven me to New Jersey. She was driving me home. But it wasn't that. Her voice didn't tremble with a style of power but with moral conviction and surety. And I understood she wasn't insisting everyone should read Li-Young Lee (though they should). It was that Sarah Sarai should.

She was right and in a way I consider the finest compliment. She saw some golden cluster of butterflies struggling in my aura (let's say) and the gorgeous clusters in Lee's poetry. She matched poets. 

Marilyn and I lost track of each other. She spent at least half the year in Florida, where she ran poetry workshops (I learned about the workshops from her obituary).  So, yes, Marilyn has moved on. She was a good poet but I couldn't persuade her to submit her work to journals, a huge frustration. Who knows how and why we configure our journey to death.  

Li-Young Lee:

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the 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.
Li-Young Lee

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