A Table in the Wilderness
I draw a window and a man sitting inside it. I draw a bird in flight above the lintel. That's my picture of thinking. If I put a woman there instead of the man, it's a picture of speaking. If I draw a second bird in the woman's lap, it’s ministering. A third flying below her feet. Now it's singing. Or erase the birds make ivy branching around the woman's ankles, clinging to her knees, and it becomes remembering. You'll have to find your own pictures, whoever you are, whatever your need. As for me, many small hands issuing from a waterfall means silence mothered me. The hours hung like fruit in night's tree means when I close my eyes and look inside me, a thousand open eyes span the moment of my waking. Meanwhile, the clock adding a grain to a grain and not getting bigger, subtracting a day from a day and never having less, means the honey lies awake all night inside the honeycomb wondering who its parents are. And even my death isn't my death unless it's the unfathomed brow of a nameless face. Even my name isn't my name except the bees assemble a table to grant a stranger light and moment in a wilderness of Who? Where?
From Book of My Nights (BOA, 2001) by Li-Young Lee. Copyright © 2001. Appears with permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents.
Date Published: 2001-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/table-wilderness