The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday and Chinese New Year

The Gift
By Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.


Adam has had a cold for a couple of days and came home from Hebrew school not feeling well, so since he had homework to finish and wanted to rest his sore foot, we went out without him -- first to the Lunar New Year celebration at Lakeforest Mall, which had its opening lion dance and martial arts on Saturday and was presenting the Asian Philharmonic Orchestra, Cantonese opera and folk dance on Sunday, then to walk around nearby Lake Whetstone, which has dozens of Canada geese that apparently never migrate as well as herons, mallards, wood ducks, and many other birds, though no turtles at this time of year. Adam was still doing homework when we got home, then went to walk the neighbor's dog.


I thought the BAFTAs would be on BBC America or at least streamed live, but I couldn't find the show anywhere, just lots of red carpet pictures. I guess Argo is now the prohibitive favorite for Best Picture at the Oscars, and while I enjoyed it well enough and thought some things about it were very well done, I can't believe so many people are choosing it over Lincoln or even Silver Linings Playbook which is in many ways a braver movie. Now we're watching the Grammys, at which fun. won many awards I thought they didn't deserve, but since the performances were mostly enjoyable, Frank Ocean beat Chris Brown, and Mumford & Sons won Record of the Year, I can't complain too much.

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