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
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.
— Li-Young Lee
from Rose, BOA Editions, Ltd., 1986
whose most recent book of poetry is "Book of My Nights,"
BOA Editions, Ltd., 2001
When the one man
loves the one woman
and the one woman loves the one man, the very angels desert heaven
and come and sit in that house
and sing for joy.
~ Brahma Sutra