Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I can't decide which poem I like better: "Eating Together" or "Eating Alone."

Eating Together
--Li-Young Lee

In the steamer is the trout
seasoned with slivers of ginger,
two sprigs of green onion, and sesame oil.
We shall eat it with rice for lunch,
brothers, sister, my mother who will
taste the sweetest meat of the head,
holding it between her fingers
deftly, the way my father did
weeks ago. Then he lay down
to sleep like a snow-covered road
winding through pines older than him,
without any travelers, and lonely for no one.

Eating Alone
--Li-Young Lee

I've pulled the last of the year's young onions.
The garden is bare now. The ground is cold,
brown and old. What is left of the day flames
in the maples at the corner of my
eye. I turn, a cardinal vanishes.
By the cellar door, I wash the onions,
then drink from the icy metal spigot.

Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears. I can't recall
our words. We may have strolled in silence. But
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear. In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees. I almost
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.

White rice steaming, almost done. Sweet green peas
fried in onions. Shrimp braised in sesame
oil and garlic. And my own loneliness.
What more could I, a young man, want.


At 11:33 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

I like "Eating Alone," though they are both lovely. One of the first poems I ever studied in an undergrad workshop, so I may be biased by past associations. Li-Young Lee is an interesting guy--inscrutable in conversation, but then he gets up there and reads with a blues band backing him up. = )

At 10:24 AM, Blogger aka Leonardo Likes Gulls said...

Eating Alone is my choice only because the title is misleading, he's with his thoughts of his father and actually not eating alone.

I think it goes a bit deeper than eating together, explores a bit more pain.

He's an incredible poet, so I'm happy with most anything he writes.


At 6:43 AM, Blogger jenni said...

I like Eating Alone too. No specific reason, just do. Matbe the images are a bit sharper, more depth. Isolation. Feeling.

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Valerie Loveland said...

I was hoping everyone would say which was their favorite!

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Rethabile said...

"Eating together." It exploits my senses of smell and taste more. Brilliant poet.


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