Book Month Challenge Day 20: Book You’ve Read The Most Number of Times

I’m going to go with a book of poetry today!

Rose by Li-Young Lee. This book is a thing of beauty. The poems are graceful, deep, moving. They are honest and humble, yet hold secrets. I come back to them over and over again.

Here are excerpts from my favorite poems in the book (click the titles for links to entire poems):

Persimmons – I love this poem because it hits on Lee’s Chinese heritage when he gets in trouble for mixing up the words persimmon and precision in school.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun 

inside, something golden, glowing,

warm as my face. 


Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,

forgotten and not yet ripe.

I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,

were each morning a cardinal

sang, The sun, the sun


Finally, understanding 

he was going blind,

my father sat up all one night

waiting for a song, a ghost.

I gave him the permissions,

swelled, heavy as sadness,

and sweet as love. 


From Blossoms – There’s a lot of fruit in these poems, and I love how Lee focuses on the senses so much – for him, the senses are emotional as well as physical. Here he talks about eating peaches – and much, much more.

There are days we live

as if death were nowhere

in the background; from joy

to joy to joy, from wing to wing,

from blossom to blossom to 

impossible blossom, to sweet, impossible blossom.


Braiding – On the surface this is just a poem about him braiding his wife’s hair. But I think it is a very truthful poem about marriage.

How I wish we didn’t hate those years

while we lived them.

Those were days of books,

days of silences stacked high

as the ceiling of that grew, dim hall . . . .


. . . Here, what’s made, these braids, unmakes

itself in time, and must be mad

again, within and against

time. So I braid

your hair each day . . .


. . . Love, how the hours accumulate. Uncountable.

The trees grow tall, some people walk away

and diminish forever. 

The damp pewter days slip around without warning

as we cross over one year and one year.


What book have you read over and over?

And here’s Karla’s answer today!

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