This poem comes from Li-Young Lee’s book Rose. Click here to purchase.

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Visions and Interpretations by Li-Young Lee

Because this graveyard is a hill,
I must climb up to see my dead,
stopping once midway to rest
beside this tree.

It was here, between the anticipation
of exhaustion, and exhaustion,
between vale and peak,
my father came down to me

and we climbed arm in arm to the top.
He cradled the bouquet I’d brought,
and 1, a good son, never mentioned his grave,
erect like a door behind him.

And it was here, one summer day, I sat down
to read an old book. When I looked up
from the noon-lit page, I saw a vision
of a world about to come, and a world about to go.

Truth is, I’ve not seen my father
since he died, and, no, the dead
do not walk arm in arm with me.

If I carry flowers to them, I do so without their help,
the blossoms not always bright, torch-like,
but often heavy as sodden newspaper.

Truth is, I came here with my son one day,
and we rested against this tree,
and I fell asleep, and dreamed

a dream which, upon my boy waking me, I told.
Neither of us understood.
Then we went up.

Even this is not accurate.
Let me begin again:

Between two griefs, a tree.
Between my hands, white chrysanthemums, yellow
chrysanthemums.

The old book I finished reading
I’ve since read again and again.

And what was far grows near,
and what is near grows more dear,

and all of my visions and interpretations
depend on what I see,

and between my eyes is always
the rain, the migrant rain.

To learn more about Li-Young Lee, visit his page on the Poetry Foundation’s website by clicking here.

Below is the warm-up poem Danielle shared with Max as an example of communication failure.

Communication by J. Allyn Rosser

This color was never stirred in a can.
It’s like the underside of God’s tongue.
The very thought of reproducing it
is like saying, I want this room
done in that woman’s laugh
after a joke that was only mildly funny
but you love the person who told it
and the one who laughed equally.
No, not remotely salmon; not sienna.
Not melon, I don’t care what stage
of ripeness. Tincture of fresh clay,
of linden tea plus one drop of clover honey?
No. It’s more like the glowy heart
in the opening credits of I Love Lucy—
which was filmed in black and white
so you have to guess at its hue.
But that’s the color it would have been.
It’s like the imagined defying the real
in an unusually confrontational way.
Once you’ve seen it a kind of zen
descends like a cape over your shoulders.
You won’t always be trying to impress people.
I can’t believe how long you’ve lived here
without seeing it, though it lasts only
a few seconds every day about this time.
I saw it the very first night I moved here.
Stand over there, look toward the city
but only peripherally. This way,
don’t face it full-on; turn slightly left,
there, breathe shallowly. Look up
without tipping your head back. Now
you’re too tense, you’re not trying, no,
the light has changed it’s gone.

To give you an idea of how Danielle looked meeting Li-Young Lee, below is an image and video clip of Troy from Community meeting LeVar Burton.