I was catching up with one of my favorite poets, Li-Young Lee, and came across his poem “Persimmons” on the Poetry Foundation’s website. There’s one delightful line where he refers to persimmons as “Chinese apples,” which I think is just great. It’s hard to explain how beautiful the poem is — the way it flows from one memory to the next, from one set of misunderstandings to a new way of making meaning, from one lovely image to another — but it truly is beautiful. So I thought I’d share one of my favorite parts of the poem (although I really just want you to read the poem itself, because it makes my soul smile). So here’s a little nibble for you:
My mother said every persimmon has a suninside, something golden, glowing,warm as my face.
Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,forgotten and not yet ripe.I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,where each morning a cardinalsang, The sun, the sun.
Finally understandinghe was going blind,my father sat up all one nightwaiting for a song, a ghost.I gave him the persimmons,swelled, heavy as sadness,and sweet as love.