The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Black Petal
By Li-Young Lee

I never claimed night fathered me.
that was my dead brother talking in his sleep.
I keep him under my pillow, a dear wish
that colors my laughing and crying.

I never said the wind, remembering nothing,
leaves so many rooms unaccounted for,
continual farewell must ransom
the unmistakable fragrance
our human days afford.

It was my brother, little candle in the pulpit,
reading out loud to all of earth
from the book of night.

He died too young to learn his name.
Now he answers to Vacant Boat,
Burning Wing, My Black Petal.

Ask him who his mother is. He'll declare the birds
have eaten the path home, but each of us
joins night's ongoing story
wherever night overtakes him,
the heart astonished to find belonging
and thanks answering thanks.

Ask if he's hungry or thirsty,
he'll say he's the bread come to pass
and draw you a map
to the twelve secret hips of honey.

Does someone want to know the way to spring?
He'll remind you
the flower was never meant to survive
the fruit's triumph.

He says an apple's most secret cargo
is the enduring odor of a human childhood,
our mother's linen pressed and stored, our father's voice
walking through the rooms.

He says he's forgiven our sister
for playing dead and making him cry
those afternoons we were left alone in the house.

And when clocks frighten me with their long hair,
and when I spy the wind's numerous hands
in the orchard unfastening
first the petals from the buds,
then the perfume from the flesh,

my dead brother ministers to me. His voice
weighs nothing
but the far years between
stars in their massive dying,

and I grow quiet hearing
how many of both of our tomorrows
lie waiting inside it to be born.


We mostly did chores today, though some of them were fun chores -- stopping at World Market for spices and simmer sauces and finding UK Cadbury Easter candy, stopping at Toys R Us for gifts and finding travel Mexican train dominoes, stopping at Petco for kitty litter and finding cats and kittens for adoption there with the SPCA (we refrained, this time, barely). I didn't find a picture frame in Michael's and we never made it to Trader Joe's but it wasn't a bad afternoon. Here are a few mediocre photos from the pet store:

A Pac-Man frog, more properly known as an Argentine Horned Frog, that can eat insects as well as rodents.

A tomato frog, originally from Madagascar, whose skin produces a toxin to which some people are allergic. Sorry about the floor's checkered reflection in the glass.

Geckos eat worms and crickets and fall asleep in their water dishes.

This snake had no problem squeezing under a divider into the next snake's compartment. Maybe there will be baby snakes!

The hermit crabs at Petco were as likely to have fancy painted shells as the ones we always see on the Bethany and Rehoboth Beach boardwalks.

These little lobster-type critters (are they crayfish?) live at Aspen Hill Tropical Fish, a different pet store!

We had dinner again with my parents and my father's brother and his family -- the leftover Chinese food from Friday night and lots of desserts, as is always the case at my mother's house. Watched Torchwood's "Meat," which I absolutely loved -- I've always liked Rhys and Ianto has several great lines! Though Jack is the one who deserves a Moby Dick reference. Still, he is forgiven for the exchange with Gwen where she asks whether he's ever eaten alien meat and whether it's any good, and Jack says, "He seemed to enjoy it." I had tears in my eyes when Owen euthanized the creature after Rhys got shot; that was all so well-played, a bit Star Trek IV and a bit E.T. It sucks that they're writing Ianto really coming into his own, Jack thinking he's in control as always and Owen glorying in his isolation while Tosh is being written so needy and clingy -- I'd forgive it as an anomaly after the episode with the young soldier boy but they dropped the unrequited-love-for-Owen stuff in last season and seem to have allowed Gwen to forget her fling with Owen entirely. Tosh should not be subjected to the same idiocy that Martha was on Doctor Who.

The Redskins have a new head coach, but I can't bring myself to care at the moment. Sunday the funeral is at 12 in Virginia, there's a family luncheon at 2, then a memorial service at 4 at the assisted living home where my great uncle and aunt have lived for the past few years, then dinner with all the relatives and friends from the service.

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