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Early In The Morning

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.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003


Read poems about / on: hair, mother, father, winter, music, water

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Comments about this poem (The City In Which I Loved You by Li-Young Lee )

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  • Angela Topping (10/22/2006 6:13:00 PM)

    This is a really lovely understated poem. I have just introduced a year 10 class to it and they loved it. So do I.

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Michael Tonkin (4/4/2005 12:13:00 PM)

    I have just discovered Li-Young Lee and I shall not let him go. Oh what poetry.

  • Michael Shepherd (3/18/2005 11:50:00 AM)

    This took my breath away...before I shouted with joy...

  • Mya Meriweather (9/19/2004 7:53:00 PM)

    The images near the end of his father loving to uno his mother's hair is my favorite part of the poem.

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