Sunday, June 16, 2013

the way

Early in the Morning
by Li-Young Lee

While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher’s ink.

She sits at the foot of the bed.
My father watches, listens for
the music of comb
against hair.

My mother combs,
pulls her hair back
tight, rolls it
around two fingers, pins it
in a bun to the back of her head.
For half a hundred years she has done this.
My father likes to see it like this.
He says it is kempt.

But I know
it is because of the way
my mother’s hair falls
when he pulls the pins out.
Easily, like the curtains
when they untie them in the evening.


  1. Stunningly beautiful – poem and picture both...

  2. i was thinking just this morning how sad i am to not have a living history such as this, to not have specifics in my daily living to allude to like long brushed hair or grains softening or winter vegetables or other deep familial/cultural roots. i have only rocks and soil, muskeg, the small fucking mosquito-swatting determined body of man. i want a lovely heritage:)

    i love li-young lee and am so glad he is in the world.

    your photograph speaks beautifully of all mornings, ruth. it enters me to meet the photograph i already contain very much like this one.


  3. From this one poem I could see such a wonderful movie being born, Ruth...couldn't you?!


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