Li-Young Lee"When you write poetry, you sit inside the burning bush."

Day 6: Daily Inspiration (National Poetry Month)

Daily Typewriter Poetry

An early start to Day Six of National Poetry Month! What will you write, today? Get inspired by today’s quote, or visit the Daily Typewriter Poetry post to read today’s featured typewriter poetry.

Daily Writing Inspiration

Our writing quote of the day is brought to you by Li-Young Lee. Previous inspirational poetry writing quotes:

Inspirational Poetry Quote

“People who read poetry have heard about the burning bush, but when you write poetry, you sit inside the burning bush.

Li-Young Lee

 

“Persimmons” by Li-Young Lee

Enjoy one of my many favorite poems by Lee, Persimmons:

 

Persimmons

by Li-Young Lee

 

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose
 
persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.
 
Donna undresses, her stomach is white.
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.
Naked:   I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo:   you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.
 
Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,
Fright was what I felt when I was fighting.
Wrens are small, plain birds,
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.
 
Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.
 
My mother said every persimmon has a sun
inside, something golden, glowing,
warm as my face.
 
Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,
where each morning a cardinal
sang, The sun, the sun.
 
Finally understanding
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night
waiting for a song, a ghost.
I gave him the persimmons,
swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love.
 
This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.
He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.
All gone, he answers.
 
Under some blankets, I find a box.
Inside the box I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.
 
He raises both hands to touch the cloth,
asks, Which is this?
 
This is persimmons, Father.
 
Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,   
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times
eyes closed. These I painted blind.
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

 

 

Donate to Tupelo Press

tupelo-press_typewriter-poetry

For #NationalPoetryMonth, I’m fundraising on behalf of Tupelo Press, a small literary publisher. Tupelo’s 30/30 Project is an all-year monthly round of writing a poem a day. Check out their website. You can read the collection of poetry I volunteered to write for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project. I also encourage you to donate in my name to Tupelo Press. 100% of proceeds go to their literary press, it’s tax-deductible, and you’ll be a patron of the arts!

suck myself out the heart i give it back

Enjoying the work I’ve been steadily producing? It’s for my upcoming art book, suck myself out the heart i give it back. Tag along for the ride! You can watch my artistic process unfold at blog.billimarie.com.