I buried my father in the sky. Since then, the birds clean and comb him every morning and pull the blanket up to his chin every night. I buried my father underground. Since then, my ladders only climb down, and all the earth has become a house whose rooms are the hours, whose doors stand open at evening, receiving guest after guest. Sometimes I see past them to the tables spread for a wedding feast. I buried my father in my heart. Now he grows in me, my strange son, my little root who won’t drink milk, little pale foot sunk in unheard-of night, little clock spring newly wet in the fire, little grape, parent to the future wine, a son the fruit of his own son, little father I ransom with my life.
Li-Young Lee, "Little Father" from Book of My Nights. Copyright © 2001 by Li-Young Lee. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.
Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents.
Date Published: 2001-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/little-father