Li-Young Lee


The Gift


To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he'd removed
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from.

I can't remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy's palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife's right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he's given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Do you like this poem?
6 person liked.
2 person did not like.

Form:


Read poems about / on: father, silver, remember, child, water, pain, dark, death, children, kiss, wind

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Gift by Li-Young Lee )

  • Rookie Tim Allen (5/4/2005 11:48:00 PM)

    i think that this poem represent the relationship between the father and the son. what i don't realise is why? why come? if someone is reading, please help me to understand. thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tim Allen (5/4/2005 11:47:00 PM)

    i think that this poem represent the relationship between the father and the son. what i don't realise is why? why come? (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

Famous Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  4. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. Caged Bird
    Maya Angelou
  8. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
Trending Poets
Trending Poems
  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. If, Rudyard Kipling
  3. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  4. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  5. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  6. No Man Is An Island, John Donne
  7. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  8. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  9. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  10. Dreams, Langston Hughes
[Hata Bildir]