Persimmons

Persimmons by Li-Young Lee

by LI-YOUNG LEE (李立揚)

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.
Naked: I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo: you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,
Fright was what I felt when I was fighting.
Wrens are small, plain birds,
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.

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,
where 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 persimmons,
swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.
He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find a box.
Inside the box I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times
eyes closed. These I painted blind.
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight

《柿子》:

六年級時沃爾科太太/抽我後腦勺一巴掌/並且罰我站到牆角/因為我不知道/persimmon [柿子] 與precision [精確] 的區別/怎樣挑選//柿子。這需要精確/熟的軟而帶棕色斑點/聞聞底部,甜的/必香。怎樣吃/把刀放一邊,報紙放一旁/輕剝皮,別撕肉/嚼皮,吸汁/嚥下。然後吃/果肉/如此甜/全部,盡情吃個夠//唐娜脫衣,她的腹部白皙/在園子裡,身披露水與蟋蟀/一同顫栗,我們裸體躺倒/臉朝上,臉朝下/我教她中文/蛐蛐:chiu chiu。露水:我忘了/裸體:我忘了/Ni,wo:你和我/我分開她的腿/記住告訴她/她與月亮一樣美//別的字/讓我遇到麻煩的是/ fight[打架]和fright[害怕],wren[鷦鷯]和yarn[紗線]/Fight是我感到害怕時的行為/fright是我打架時的感受/Wrens是一種小的,普通的鳥兒/yarn是編織時用的/Wren跟yarn一樣柔軟/我母親用紗線做小鳥兒/我愛看她編結這些東西/一隻鳥,一隻兔,一個小人兒//沃爾科太太帶了一個柿子到課堂/並且切開/給每人都嚐一塊/“中國蘋果”。知道/這柿子不熟也不甜,我沒吃/但我觀看別人的臉//母親說每個柿子都有一輪太陽/在裡邊, 金黃,鮮亮/跟我的臉龐一般溫暖// 一次,在地下室,我發現兩個包在報紙裡/被忘卻了,還沒熟透/我把它們拿走放到我臥室的窗台上/在那兒每天清晨一隻紅色的小鳥兒/歌唱:“太陽,太陽”//當他終於明白/他漸漸失明/父親坐了一通宵/等待一首歌, 一個魂靈/我遞給他那兩個柿子/飽滿,沉重如悲傷/甜蜜似愛情//今年,借混濁的燈光/我在父母的地下室裡​​,翻弄、尋找/我失去的東西/父親坐在陳舊的木台階上/黑色的手杖在他兩膝間/一隻手搭在另一隻上,緊抓手杖把//他很高興我回家來/我問他眼睛怎樣,愚蠢的問題/“全瞎了”,他答道//在一些毯子下, 我找到一個盒子/在盒子裡我發現三個畫卷/我坐到他身旁,打開/三幅父親畫的畫//綠葉中一朵白花/兩隻貓在整理容貌/兩個柿子,如此飽滿像要從畫布上滾下//他伸出雙手去摸畫布/問道,“這是哪一幅?”//“這是柿子,父親。”//“啊, 那畫筆在絲綢上的感覺/那力量, 那手腕中/緊緻的精確/柿子我閉著眼畫過/上百次。這些我失明後畫的/有的東西永遠不會離開人/香味來自你所愛的人的頭髮/柿子的紋理/在你掌中,那熟透的沉重。”

(周曉靜 黃清華 譯)

《柿子》一詩是李立揚處子詩集《玫瑰》中的第三首。詩歌以第一人稱寫作,原文約500字,分13小節,以“柿子”為中心意象,記錄了身為華裔後代的“我”在成長中面對中、英兩種語言文化,不斷在兩者間構建、認識自我的經歷。詩人筆觸時而幽默、時而深情,簡單明快、盈滿智慧。 《柿子》一個突出的特點是對時間、空間、光影以及色彩的安排複雜而有序,既增加了詩歌的立體層次感,又從不同角度折射了中西方語言、文化之間的對立與融合,從而強調華裔美國文化的雙重屬性與內在衝突。讀者通過該詩對時空、光影、色彩的把握,可掂量出字裡行間華裔美國文化的重量。

黃清華- 時空、光影、色彩中的華裔美國文化

中國作家網

From:  http://www.chinawriter.com.cn/bk/2009-11-04/39153.html