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More poems by Li-Young LeeLi-Young Lee | Print this page.Print | View and Write CommentsComments | Books by Li-Young LeeBooks by Li-Young Lee

For A New Citizen Of These United States

Li-Young Lee

Forgive me for thinking I saw 
the irregular postage stamp of death; 
a black moth the size of my left 
thumbnail is all I've trapped in the damask. 
There is no need for alarm.  And 

there is no need for sadness, if 
the rain at the window now reminds you 
of nothing; not even of that 
parlor, long like a nave, where cloud-shadow, 
wing-shadow, where father-shadow 
continually confused the light.  In flight, 
leaf-throng and, later, soldiers and 
flags deepened those windows to submarine. 

But you don't remember, I know, 
so I won't mention that house where Chung hid, 
Lin wizened, you languished, and Ming- 
Ming hush-hushed us with small song.  And since you 
don't recall the missionary 
bells chiming the hour, or those words whose sounds 
alone exhaust the heart--garden, 
heaven, amen--I'll mention none of it. 

After all, it was just our life, 
merely years in a book of years.  It was 
1960, and we stood with 
the other families on a crowded 
railroad platform.  The trains came, then 
the rains, and then we got separated. 

And in the interval between 
familiar faces, events occurred, which 
one of us faithfully pencilled 
in a day-book bound by a rubber band. 

But birds, as you say, fly forward. 
So I won't show you letters and the shawl 
I've so meaninglessly preserved. 
And I won't hum along, if you don't, when 
our mothers sing Nights in Shanghai. 
I won't, each Spring, each time I smell lilac, 
recall my mother, patiently 
stitching money inside my coat lining, 
if you don't remember your mother 
preparing for your own escape. 

After all, it was only our 
life, our life and its forgetting. 

Added: 25 Feb 2002 | Last Read: 24 Mar 2019 9:39 AM | Viewed: 8248 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/2803/ | Viewed on 24 March 2019.
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