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By Li-Young Lee

That scraping of iron on iron when the wind   

rises, what is it? Something the wind won’t   

quit with, but drags back and forth.

Sometimes faint, far, then suddenly, close, just   

beyond the screened door, as if someone there   

squats in the dark honing his wares against   

my threshold. Half steel wire, half metal wing,   

nothing and anything might make this noise   

of saws and rasps, a creaking and groaning

of bone-growth, or body-death, marriages of rust,   

or ore abraded. Tonight, something bows

that should not bend. Something stiffens that should   

slide. Something, loose and not right,   

rakes or forges itself all night.

Li-Young Lee, “Nocturne” from Rose. Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd.,

Source: Rose (BOA Editions Ltd., 1986)

  • Mythology & Folklore

Poet Bio

Li-Young Lee
The son of a personal physician of Mao Zedong, Li-Young Lee was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. After fleeing the country, the family settled in the United States in 1964. Li-Young Lee’s mother came from a noble family, with her grandfather serving as the first president of the Republic of China. Upon arriving in the U.S., Lee’s father became a Presbyterian minister in Pennsylvania. Lee’s poetry is filled with vivid imagery and creates an atmosphere of silence, much like the poems of China’s classical poets. His work often fades from reality into dream worlds, and is punctuated with an attention to the senses. See More By This Poet

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