after Li-Young Lee

My father returned from the city
early that afternoon—or maybe
the long days of summer

having come to stand for
childhood make it seem
that way.  What I recall

more clearly than the place
we lived is a paper bag
brimming with first persimmons—

peculiar fruit, no discernible
seed, quickly turning
too sweet—their human

contours tempting painters,
beckoning from memory. Now
the age my father had been,

I’ve watched the familiar fruit
ripen on a young and spindly tree.
Autumn’s almost imperceptible.

One morning before I’ve
picked, they’re gone—
theft by kids innocent

as the wish to return
home bearing the heart
of summer.


©Christian Knoeller, 2012

Christian Knoeller (BAWP ’91), Associate Professor of English at Purdue, is author of the collection Completing the Circle.  He has new work appearing or forthcoming in About Place, Bluestem, Fourteen Hills, Platte Valley Review, and South Carolina Review.  This fall he will be offering a new graduate course. READING THE MIDWEST:  ENGAGING PLACE IN LITERATURE AND TEACHING. He has received the 2011 Gwendolyn Brooks Prize for Poetry from the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature and is currently serving as President of that organization.

One Response to “Persimmons by Christian Knoeller”

  1. Marty Williams Says:

    Great generosity in this poem, Christian. You captured well, too, the ever-present summer standing in for the whole of childhood. Thanks, Marty

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