Anyone who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and anyone who takes care of a master will be honored.
I am planting a thousand seeds in my garden
Rows and rows of plants incubating and burrowing their roots deep into
Brooklyn soil as the winter chill wanes into an April spring
As the soil is turned and seeds scattered into the ground
I meditate on past gardens and soil further back in my ancestral line
Patches of soil trying to survive in an immigrant families’ front yard twenty years ago
Tulips dying from one too many bikes riding over the flower patches
Plants growing in a 唐人街* tenement fire escape fifty years ago
Enough space on Bayard Street for a family of 5+ and some
And even further, rice paddies on stretches of farmland in 台山 eighty years ago
All these places connected by rootedness to earth
As my 祖先 poured their dreams and hopes
while laboring over fields and home gardens
I carry on their legacy by watering my garden
With not just water but the thousands of history reborn
So there can be hope for a present and a future where
Love persists for all to flourish
I look across my small green space among concrete jungle and run my fingers through the muddy rich dirt
Is this honor?
Is this birthright?
To carry across generations of 周 and 葉,
The reverence of land that births…
…a thousand trees from seeds so small they slip through our fingers
…vibrance into vacant lots of communities forgotten
…awe at the sight of a first blossom
…delight in the joys of a bountiful harvest
I am planting my thousand seeds and a thousand dreams
Into ground a thousand miles and a thousand years away
From when and where my foremothers first gave care to the earth.
Some of my most sacred moments have been found not only in the mundane routine of digging into soil, but also in remembering my 祖先 / ancestors that came before me and how I am carrying on their legacy in my life now in 2019. I want to forge a garden, whether an actual physical one or a spiritual one in the spaces I inhabit that honors my people—the farmers, sailors, immigrants and all who paved a way for my existence.
Take a pause and give thanks for the many plants that sustained you today: from the cotton in your clothing, the wood that supports your furniture and houses, to the vegetables in your meal and flowers that scent your body. They too, are life made and blessed by God herself.
唐人街: (Tong Yun Gai) – Chinatown
祖先: (Jo Seen) – Ancestors
葉: (Yeep) – Leaf