BY JASON LEE
This piece is part of syndicated series in collaboration with Yale Logos for Lent 2021. You can read the original piece at https://www.yalelogos.com/home/i-hide-myself.
Repentance, cloaked not in Eden’s leaves, but the words of others, which are more familiar, and less agonizing to order, than any I could write myself.
“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
The hydrangea begins as a small, bright world.
Mother buries rusty nails, and the flowers
Weep blue and pink. I am alone in the garden,
And like all else that is living, I lean into the sun.
Each bouquet will cringe and die in time
While the dry earth watches. It is ugly,
And the earth is ugly to allow it. Still, the petals
Curl and drop. Other calls it an exquisite waste,
But there is no choice. I learn how:
Before letting go, open yourself completely.
Wait. When the heavens fail to answer,
Curse the heavens. Wither and bend.
From “Drought”, The Body’s Question, Tracy K. Smith
What surprised him was that as he felt closer to death, he felt the terror of death, its very finality. There were so many things he had failed to do. There were even more things he should never have done. He thought of his parents, whom he should never have left; his brother, whom he should never have brought to Osaka; and he thought of the job in Nagasaki he should never have taken. He had no children of his own. Why did God bring him this far? He was suffering, and in a way, he could manage that; but he had caused others to suffer, and he did not know why he had to live now and recall the series of terrible choices that had not looked so terrible at the time.
Pachinko, pg. 262-263, Min Jin Lee
This is the sound of a soul in tune
To a savage desire for a soul made new
It’s a savage desire for a soul untamed
A definitive cry in the present age
Do I throw my clothes in the fire?
Do I throw my hopes in the fire?
Do those things grow in the fire
Or burn just to keep me complying?
Can you still show me the way?
Can you still show me a light?
‘Cause I was only a kid
When I fell and you tossed me aside, hey
What can I do if the fire goes out?
‘Cause I don’t know if I can live without
I wanna taste and see if the Lord is good
I wanna know if I’m heard and if I’m understood
See the savage desire is some stupid thing
Or if having desire is summoned deep within
From “What Can I Do if the Fire Goes Out?”, Gang of Youths
I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.
Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are away?
The book fell that is always turned to at twilight
And my cape rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.
Always, always you recede through the evenings
Towards where the twilight goes erasing statues.
“We Have Lost Even”, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, Pablo Neruda
Once there was a horse, and on the horse there was a rider. How handsome they looked in the autumn sunlight, approaching a strange city! People thronged the streets or called from the high windows. Old women sat among flowerpots. But when you looked about for another horse or another rider, you looked in vain. My friend, said the animal, why not abandon me? Alone, you can find your way here. But to abandon you, said the other, would be to leave a part of myself behind, and how can I do that when I do not know which part you are?
“The Horse and Rider”, Faithful and Virtuous Night, Louise Glück
Jason Lee is a rising junior majoring in Global Affairs.