I begin with a wonder:
That I am buried neck deep;
That in these parts, I only used to grow in India
From a soil no different from
the loam you are familiar with.
When you look out the window where you live,
our view is the same.
Under the umbrella of sky:
A cycle of sun, clouds, rain, moon, stars
parade in the field of vision.
The scenes seem captured in ordinary supermarket-bought refrigerator magnets
In a random sequence,
perhaps the master of the house
or maybe, a whimsical child.
In my youth, the green leaves on my head seemed fragile
But needed no special care.
Brown branches spurted, were broken, spurted again.
And then my trunk, scaly, hard and handsome,
bore my eyes slowly
Up the ground and beyond the horizon.
In this ancient hill somewhere in India.
In what is to be known as Kashmir, Goa or Calcutta,
it does not matter,
I see fields and trees, brooks and rivers,
Flying things both great and small
Sorting themselves into a view.
Look, the Ganges snakes peacefully towards the sea.
In this promontory, I only have a yearning.
That one day I will grow to reach
That thing beyond my reach.
I have no legs, no wings.
And really, honestly—who has?
In the vastness of a universe
that many physicists say, swell and distend
like a slowly inhaling balloon
What does it take to get from one place to the end?
that seemingly simple act
of putting one foot before another.
Placing one person in that place of need.
One giant stride.
To say yes,
To not be afraid,
To forsake everything else,
To simply say, “I do.”
I have shed my leaves in many seasons,
Bore the fruit that I was destined to spew
Some as big as one’s pride,
Others as small as a cancerous node,
But always, a bright yellow sun of incomparable sweetness
Fragrant like a heart before it is broken
shaped like the skull of a baby, or
the muscular bicep of a man we knew.
My children have travelled to terra incognita.
Loved or bruised, it has found its place
Springing from the earth,
To table, to food.
I feel it all.
The warm palm against my cheek.
Or a lover’s undressing of my skin
The lips pursed,
the sweet sloppy slurping
taking of what the earth has to offer.
There are yellows still.
But there are other colors, too.
Green, red, orange.
Named after the sturdiness of the carabao
Or relatives in Hawaii.
I am proud of them all.
In place of arms, my roots dig into the earth,
yearly inch into the unknown
in search of other roots to grasp.
In the damp subterranean, the darkness does not matter.
The fumbling yields a touch, a caress, an embrace,
An intertwining of roots from other trees,
in places as strange as I am
and as far as it is strange—
Kerala -Quiapo, Lisbon-Lipa, Belgium-Butuan, Sevilla-Cebu.
Versailles-Valle Verde, San Francisco Delmonte, New York, Cubao
I will share with you a secret:
The earth is held together by these clutches.
(Maybe gravity, too.)
In the future, they say, the earth will disarray,
But not today.
I say to you,
Never let go.