Friday, February 5, 2010

Poetry Friday: The Interrogation

Li-Young Lee

Two streams: one dry, one poured all night by our beds.

I’ll wonder
about neither.

The dry one was clogged with bodies.

I’m through
with memory.

At which window of what house did light teach you tedium?
On which step of whose stairway did you learn indecision?

I’m through
sorting avenues and doors,
curating houses and death.

Which house did we flee by night? Which house did we flee by day?

Don’t ask me.

We stood and watched one burn; from one we ran away.

I’m neatly folding
the nights and days, notes
to be forgotten

We were diminished. We were not spared. There was no pity.
Neither was their sanctuary. Neither rest.
There were fires in the streets. We stood among men, at the level
of their hands, all those wrists, dead or soon to die.

No more
letting my survival
depend on memory.

There was the sea; its green volume brought despair.
There was waiting, there was leaving. There was
astonishment too. The astonishment of
“I thought you died!” “How did you get out?”
“And Little Fei Fei walked right by the guards!”

I grow
leaden with stories,
my son’s eyelids
grow heavy.

Who rowed the boat when our father tired?

Don’t ask me.

Who came along? Who got left behind?

Ask the sea.

Through it all there was no song, and weeping
came many years later.

I’m through
with memory.

Sometimes a song,
even when there was weeping.

I’m through with memory.

Can’t you still smell the smoke on my body?


tanita davis said...

Oh, everything I want to say in response to this seems so trite.

I am silenced. For someone to find a beautiful way to speak of the unspeakable - I am humbled, and I am silenced.

Jessie Carty said...

i notice something new everytime i read this poem. thanks for reminding me of it.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but think of Haiti as I read this.

evelyn.n.alfred said...