Night. Mother wren, soldier heron, and pastor crow
were all three waiting for the citizen seed to wake, to rise
from his dark bed walking, to speak. The seed lay in a
dead swoon. Somewhere, snow fell past a clock, and the
seed slept. Somewhere, a man grew a beard and died in
his cell, and the seed slept. A woman waited for her
lover a lifetime, then swept her kitchen of leaves blown
in from seasons upon seasons of trees the man left unpruned,
the shears hung to rust in a lower branch, and
the seed slept. A city closed its gates. The seed slept.
What to do? Fretted mother wren. Stand fast, counseled
the heron. The pastor, wise crow, spoke: only a hand can
help us, and only a thief. For only a thief will know the way
into a fortified seed. But where, asked the soldier, will we
find such a hand?
The wren looked here and there, in a hayloft, inside
an old coat sleeve. The pastor ventured throughout the
countryside. The heron guarded the sleeper. One night
the crow found the hand lying under a thigh. The hand
smelled of oranges and fish, and lay dreaming of oranges
bobbing in the ocean, among the wreckage of crates, the
fruit nudged now and then from below, nibbled by unseen mouths.
The crow scratched a message on the windowsill,
tapped on the pane, then fled. The hand, a
blind thief, read the pecked sill with its fingers, then lit
out after the bird.
After many years the bird and the hand arrived where
the tattered wren, in a cap of snow, stood by the heron,
who wore a shawl of snow across his powerful shoulders.
There, said the crow to the thief, and the hand approached
the tiny sleeper.
Children, I know you wonder how a hand may enter a
place so narrow as a seed. The answer is the hand must
die. So the hand lay down next to the seed, opened, and
the three ravenous birds ripped up its flesh and gobbled
up the blood, and put the bones in a sack.
Once inside the seed, the thief, who had been blind,
could see. He moved toward the heart of the seed, but
found his path blocked by a book. Leafing through
the book, he noticed many pages missing. Yet, even with
missing pages, the book was too large to move, too high
to vault, and too wide to go around. So he sat down and
began to read the book with the missing pages. Reading
first the odd-numbered pages, and then the even, he
read out loud, while all one hundred rooms of the house
of the seed echoed with the sound of a hand reading.
Taken fron the book: The Winged Seed: A Remembrance
Li-Young Lee is remarkable for his ability to put pain and love in the palm of hand. Many of his works are in major text books for U.SA. high school students. His 'The Gift' is one of the best positive father-son relationship poems that exists in the English language.
Look at the birds. Even flying is born
out of nothing. The first sky is inside you, open
at either end of day. The work of wings was always freedom, fastening one heart to every falling thing.