Bonsai Maintenance

“Roots” — Natalie Martell

Ensure proper care of your bonsai
as long as you regularly trim away
the excess leaves, branches,
and trunk.

Do a thorough job and train the
roots to braid themselves around

nails. With a little water and sun-
light, the bonsai will live for-

ever unchanged. A personality
through growth is frivolous.

All the Same

It was my mother who made me believe that
          all the world’s poor looked the same.
Out the window we watched my grandfather
          tend the garden after morning rosaries,
his gait hunched and measured at best, like
          a water buffalo in the rice paddies he knew.
As children, we were taught to love the luxuries
          of Rome, Paris, and all the gold of our
conquistadors, where history favored their culture
          over palm trees, freshwater pearls—
for what use was it to find beauty in our soil,
          so often overcome with floods and hunger,
When there existed another way of life,
          devoid of the whipped backs of our ancestors?

The UN sent him off to teach crop irrigation
          to faraway farmers who started like him.
But these lands were as hard and cracked as
          the champurrado-brown faces
hiding in street corners, staring from road sides:
          Kente or Pashmina, Ghanaian or Pakistani
or Filipino? Hollow eyes followed in all his
          travels, speaking poverty to one born in it.

Hindi, anak. No, child. Once you’ve seen the
          third-world, there is no need to go back.