199: Bonsai

Tonight’s reading: Bonsai, by Edith Tiempo.
This is another poem close to my heart, in part because I was privileged to know the author. Over several readings it has taken on several meanings. Right now, I am struck by the quality of memory. It opens with a meditation of what we hold dear, that we cling to, and to keep with us forever. (“All that I love / I fold over once / and once again / and keep in a box”) Remembering is an act of transformation (folding). But it pauses and in the next stanza, asks (“All that I love?”) what it is exactly. And it turns out that it’s all these trinkets that have meaning only to ourselves, but it points out to something bigger and inexpressible in simple words. That is the clue to the title: bonsai is a miniature of a big tree, just like memory is a compression (“to a cupped hand’s size”) of something grand and sublime.

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Dom Cimafranca

Teacher, writer, project manager, and all-around nice guy.