Friday, September 7, 2012

Li-Young Lee

Trading For Heaven

I saw you at the top of the stairs.
Now I live a secret life.

I saw you holding open the door.
Now I’m filling pages with

things I can’t tell anyone.
Now I’m more alone than I’ve ever been.

I traded every beyond, every someday,
for heaven in my lifetime. Now I’m dying

of my life. Now I’m alive
inside my death.

Do you see the space between our bodies?
Barely a hand, hardly a breath,

it is the space mountains and rivers are made of.
It is the beginning of oceans, the space

between either and or, both and neither,
the happiness of forgetting

our names and the happiness of hearing them
for the first time. I heard you

singing yourself to sleep.
It was a song from both of our childhoods.

And now I don’t know if singing
is a form of helplessness,
Time’s architecture revealed,

or some inborn motive all blood
and breath obey
to enact a savage wheel.

I found you at dawn
sitting by the open kitchen window.
You were sorting seeds in a plate.

And if you were praying out loud,
I’ll never tell.

And if you were listening to the doves,
and if their various whoo-ing, and coo-ing,
and dying in time,
are your earliest questions blown back to you
through the ragged seasons,

and if you’ve lived your life
in answer to those questions,
I’ll never tell.

Your destiny is safe with me.
Your childhood is safe with me.
What you decide to bury is safe with me.

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