(p. 29) “I Ask My Mother to Sing” by Li-Young Lee
She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.
But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.
Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.
I like the picture of the waterlilies filling with rain and tipping and then filling again and this magical place in his mother and grandmother’s song where elegant picnickers run over the grass to shelter from a rain—I imagine them laughing and dressed in silk. It reminds me of how our parents’ memories—their real life—is to us dreams and stories.