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Words for Worry

Another word for father is worry.

Worry boils the water

for tea in the middle of the night.

Worry trimmed the child’s nails before

singing him to sleep.

Another word for son is delight,

another word, hidden.

And another is One-Who-Goes-Away.

Yet another, One-Who-Returns.

So many words for son:




But only one word for father.

And sometimes a man is both.

Which is to say sometimes a man

manifests mysteries beyond

his own understanding.

For instance, being the one and the many,

and the loneliness of either. Or

the living light we see by, we never see. Or

the sole word weighs

heavy as a various name.

And sleepless worry folds the laundry for tomorrow.

Tired worry wakes the child for school.

Orphan worry writes the note he hides

in the child’s lunch bag.

It begins, Dear Firefly….

from Book of My NightsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2001
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Li-Young Lee Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.