The Hammock


When I lay my head in my mother's lap
I think how day hides the stars,
the way I lay hidden once, waiting
inside my mother's laughter. And I remember
how she carried me on her back
between home and the kindergarten,
once each morning and once each afternoon.
I don't know what my mother's thinking.

When my son lays his head in my lap, I worry
his lips, swollen with his father's kisses,
won't keep his father's worries from becoming
his. I think, Dear God, and remember
there are stars we haven't heard from yet
they have so far to arrive. Amen,
I think, and I feel almost comforted.
I've no idea what my child is thinking.

Between two unknowns, I live my life.
And what's it like? Between my mother's hopes,
older than me by coming before me,
and my child's wishes, older than me
by outliving me, what's it like?
Is it a door, and good-bye on either side?
Is it a window, and eternity on either side?
Yes, Yes, and a little singing between two great rests.


Li-Young Lee, Book of My Nights, BOA Editions, 2001.