chinese apples


photo courtesy of La Petit Gigi

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 sun
inside, 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 cardinal
sang, The sun, the sun.
Finally understanding
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night
waiting for a song, a ghost.
I gave him the persimmons,
swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love.
There’s just something about this poem…I love it. So there you go. A little bite to nourish you. Maybe you’ll want more morsels and will take a sec to give the whole poem a read-through. I hope so…it’s delicious!

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