The poem is a relation between Li-Young Lee, and the history of the Indigo also known as Indigofera tinctoria. The poem strings together Lee’s search for his identity as a Chinese-American, and the origin and value of the Indigo. The Indigo originated in India where it was turned into an industry in 300 BC, and then it was later discovered and later spread around the world by the Venetian explorer Marco Polo.
Throughout the distribution of this plant it replaced the current blue dye of Europeans called woad. It soon became one of the most valued plants in all of Asia. Furthermore, Lee states the importance of Indigo by referring to it as a “saint” in line 3. In “My Indigo”, Lee talks about how the Indigo has lost its sense of identity by describing himself. “Now, blackness gathers in the grass, and I am on my hands and knees. What is its name? (Lee7,8,9) It becomes very obvious that not only the Indigo has lost it’s sense of identity, but rather Lee has as well. Through research one can see that this is a reoccurring theme in many of Lee’s poems. In general, “My Indigo” describes the history of the Indigo, as well as what it stands for today. Furthermore, it gives light to the lost sense of identity that many immigrants from Asia such as Lee felt when they arrived in America.