On First Reading Li-Young Lee’s "Eating Together"
I hold the page that holds the poem under my breast
where it rests against ribs. My heart with its resonant
thump makes itself felt in its cage.
Its pulse on the page shakes the words ginger sesame
fingers and I feel the warm fragrance of this meal
that a family takes together weeks
after their father dies. Alive, he held his food deftly
between fingers the way my father did.
I know the light touch.
The father dies in the poem lonely for no one.
But my father, on a fine June day, went to his office
and shattered his life all over the x-ray room.
Understand how a quiet death blanketed in snow
is music that eases this dangerous lesson.
The notes come from a place where it’s possible
to trust the silence that follows.
This work is in response to the aforementioned poem. The painting was selected by the editor and did not prompt the poem.
Read Li-Young Lee's poem that inspired this one, here:
Judith Bowles lives, writes and gardens in Washington D. C. She has an MFA from the American University in short fiction and taught creative writing there. Two of her stories were selected for the Pen Syndicated Fiction Project. Her poems have been published in The Delmarva Review, The Innisfree Journal of Poetry, and Gargoyle. Her book, The Gatherer, was published by WordTech Communication’s Turning Point in November of 2014.
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