At the IKEA checkout, a tiny curiosity
nearly stirred your pocket money.
Each time I brought you along,
the wait in line made human creativity
seem as funny as showing off.
It was already hard to keep you
from seeing through a father’s teachings. I tried all the tricks,
but mostly I steeled myself
and showed that hidden behind the father’s role
was a friend. Will you remember
to water it twice a week?
“I will.” The right answer is
“I promise.” But deep down,
I felt guilty, I shouldn’t have taught you
to make promises so young.
“And I know it’s called a provision tree, it’s from Mexico.”
OK then. You reminded me that the leaves
were too pretty for it to be a kapok.
Was there anything left to teach you?
Suppose the answer was yes—then to teach you
was to teach myself.
I loved you so much I could tell
you loved me even more, more fervently, even more unconditionally.
Despite all the dangers, you still let me
bring you into this world. In recompense,
the best I could do
was let you have your curiosity; encourage you
to see which things you experienced
came from something you actually enjoyed—
like that time when I indulged you
and bought that little bonsai,
guiding you to identify it right away
as your tiny sister of the plant world.
Translated by Eleanor Goodman