Wise Poets – Zang Di – Bonsai Primer

Zang Di

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


Señor Tao’s Related Diary Entry


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