The baobab’s lesson

The tree told me to learn patience,
so I waited until September to plant it.

It told me to lose my fear of growing roots,
So I planted it on the ground, alone in the middle of the yard.

It spoke to me about a phoenix.

I braced myself to be consumed by fire.

But the tree burned cold on a February frost.

It ended up a small fishing pole, right there by the water.
I sat down next to it to recite my mantras patiently,
until we sprout new wings and the fish bite.


Nova trova (new song)
I returned from my rock in anguish. They poured concrete over my flying roots.
Baobab was waiting with a bouquet of shimmering wings,
more verdant than island green.

Now it talks in discourses that invoke Julia (de Burgos):
“Do your feet bother you like roots?
Make yourself a stem of steps and open the sky!”

“¿Te molestan los pies como raíces?
¡Hazte un tallo de pasos y abre el cielo!”


Open sky

My friend Keith pulled you out of the ground unceremoniously, hardly gave me time to caress your leaves and say goodbye. He knew this separation would hurt and did his job like a good obstetrician performs a cesarean.

The next day I was brave enough to go look at the scar: grass would cover it in a few days and no one would ever know who/what was there. I felt the emptiness and cried over the wound a little, remembering a beautiful gestation. It even dawned cloudy, like a day of mourning.

But mourning gave way to a bright and infinite freedom.
It was the peace of the errant who finds her path again; the joy of the bird who remembers she has wings.

The sky opened. I flew.


Return to earth (touch and go)

Ah, mi amigo baobab, aquí estamos otra vez.

Tú, el hijo-padre de mis sueños, apretado en un tiesto. Yo también me siento apretada y sólo me consuela haberte rescatado y traído de nuevo aquí donde el frío quema menos. Estás creciendo despacio y algún día podré hacer lo que tu querías: trepar por tus ramas y subir directa al cielo. Pero para eso falta.

No tuve paciencia antes y todavía no la tengo. Busco donde sembrarte. Debes crecer para servirme de escalera. Pero no puedo sembrarte en esta estación de tren. Tú no querrás que vivamos en esta encrucijada siempre…

En la intersección del canal, he visto una cigüeña aterrizar y volver a remontarse sobre el espacio largo que abre el agua. Aparenta ser un canal pantanoso, pero es una pista de despegue.


Homecoming –

When the last ibis flies home
you will still be here
standing a little shorter
because I planted you on the ground,

A place to call home,
counter-invading a land that’s yours,
feeling the space –
filling the space.

Wings got nowhere to go but up.
Feet got nowhere to go but deep
inside you
inside me.
Ibises fly home in flocks of black and white.
One strays.
Spiritus ubi vult spirat:
The wind blows where it wants.
You and I spiral away
and return together to a place far away
across the ocean.
We chase the eastern sun
and return to dawn each day
to a beginning that has no end
in an endless spiral of borrowed flowers the loblolly bay sends
as presents to welcome you to your roots.
“May Yemaya sing you a lullaby”
Caen cinco flores blancas con cinco pétalos cada una
“May Oshun protect you”
El agua fluye frente a tí, el caimán te mira con respeto
“And may Oya have mercy on you”
El viento sopla por doquier
“and mercy on me.”

The flowers fall counterclockwise
as an offering to the goddesses.
I retrace clockwise to ask Oya to unwind her spirit.
I pray for our protection and you observe
as I turn on my axis and pause
to open my eye and see a sky
blue with a chance of ibis.

When the last ibis flies home
you’re here with me
to teach me to grow.