Li-Young Lee

From Joy to Joy to Joy

for Aaron & Michelle


From Blossoms
by Li-Young Lee, from Rose 

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.


Behind My Eyes Your attention please.
Train number 9, The Northern Zephyr,
destined for River’s End, is now boarding.
All ticketed passengers
please proceed to the gate marked Evening

Your attention please. Train number 7,
Leaves Blown By, bound for The Color of Thinking
and Renovated Time, is now departing.
All ticketed passengers may board
behind my eyes.

Your attention please. Train number 4, The Twentieth Century,
has joined The Wind Undisguised to become The Written Word.

Those who never heard their names
may inquire at the uneven margin of the story
or else consult the ivy
lying awake under our open window.

Your attention please, The Music,
arriving out of hidden ground
and endlessly beginning, is now the flower,
now the fruit, now our cup and cheer
under branches more ancient
than our grandmother’s hair.

Passengers with memories of the sea
may board leisurely at any unmarked gate.

Fateful members of the foam may proceed to azalea.

Your attention please.
Under falling petals, never think about home.
Seeing begins in the dark.
Listening stills us.
Yesterday has gone
ahead to meet you.

And the place in a book a man stops reading
is the place a girl escaped
through her mother’s garden.

And between paired notes of the owl,
a boy disappeared. Search for him
goes on in the growing shadow of the clock.

Li-Young LeeAnd the face behind the clock’s face
is not his father’s face.

And the hands behind the clock’s hands
are not his mother’s hands.

All light-bearing tears may be exchanged
for the accomplished wine.

Your attention please. Train number 66,
Unbidden Song, soon to be
the full heart’s quiet, takes no passengers.

Please leave your baggage with the attendant
at the window marked Your Name Sprung from Hiding.

An intrepid perfume is waging our rescue.

You may board at either end of Childhood.

-- Li-Young Lee, from Behind My Eyes
"Poet's Intimate Stanzas Explore Grief and Salvation," by Tom Vitale, Weekend Edition Saturday (3.8.08)