Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


I Loved You Before I Was Born

I loved you before I was born.
It doesn't make sense, I know.

I saw your eyes before I had eyes to see.
And I've lived longing 
for your ever look ever since.
That longing entered time as this body. 
And the longing grew as this body waxed.
And the longing grows as the body wanes.
The longing will outlive this body.

I loved you before I was born.
It doesn't make sense, I know.

Long before eternity, I caught a glimpse
of your neck and shoulders, your ankles and toes.
And I've been lonely for you from that instant.
That loneliness appeared on earth as this body. 
And my share of time has been nothing 
but your name outrunning my ever saying it clearly. 
Your face fleeing my ever
kissing it firmly once on the mouth.

In longing, I am most myself, rapt,
my lamp mortal, my light 
hidden and singing. 

I give you my blank heart.
Please write on it
what you wish. 

Credit


From The Undressing: Poems by Li-Young Lee. Copyright © 2018 by Li-Young Lee. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Author


Li-Young Lee

Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents.

Date Published: 2018-04-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/i-loved-you-i-was-born