Visions And Interpretations
Because this graveyard is a hill,
I must climb up to see my dead,
stopping once midway to rest
beside this tree.
It was here, between the anticipation
of exhaustion, and exhaustion,
between vale and peak,
my father came down to me
and we climbed arm in arm to the top.
He cradled the bouquet I'd brought,
and 1, a good son, never mentioned his grave,
erect like a door behind him.
And it was here, one summer day, I sat down
to read an old book. When I looked up
from the noon-lit page, I saw a vision
of a world about to come, and a world about to go.
Truth is, I've not seen my father
since he died, and, no, the dead
do not walk arm in arm with me.
If I carry flowers to them, I do so without their help,
the blossoms not always bright, torch-like,
but often heavy as sodden newspaper.
Truth is, I came here with my son one day,
and we rested against this tree,
and I fell asleep, and dreamed
a dream which, upon my boy waking me, I told.
Neither of us understood.
Then we went up.
Even this is not accurate.
Let me begin again:
Between two griefs, a tree.
Between my hands, white chrysanthemums, yellow
The old book I finished reading
I've since read again and again.
And what was far grows near,
and what is near grows more dear,
and all of my visions and interpretations
depend on what I see,
and between my eyes is always
the rain, the migrant rain.
Li-Young Lee's Other Poems
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