i. fertilize my field
in that town, i was baptized
with a watering can. cold droplets
traced rivers down my shivering back.
when i was young, we boxed our belongings and took them
elsewhere, and i was a sapling being grafted. i became too
scared to speak, so i penciled my troubles onto paper and
gave the wooden curses to my mother with tremorous hands:
i cannot be grafted, i cannot be grafted, i cannot be grafted,
and please repot my perennial fright.
shyness was planted into my third-grade soul. i am still
pruning away the brittle leaves,
hacking at its trunk, clawing at the rot.
sap clings to my fibrous fingers.
i combatted rainy tears
during my piano lessons as i dragged my bloodied fingers
across the thorny keys, or in classrooms where i was
nailed to a crucifix of fear, or with the
judas people i wanted to be my new friends.
ii. weed my flowerbed
if i were blessed, i would not sometimes be an
etiolated eve drifting through the garden of eden.
i visit my built-up hometown and
remember i am not a local
anymore, even if that was the holy
loam i first trod on.
imagination invades reality and the idea
germinates: that could have been me.
that could have been me. and i have a vision: wandering
that school’s redolent halls and
mingling with that petaled crowd and
never knowing the difference.
my hometown friends are merely
faces in my chlorotic yearbook:
have those trellis kids with
tendril hearts forgotten me yet?
iii. pollinate my blossoms
it’s ridiculous that i cultivate nostalgia for that home
but i feel wilted when i see the people who also grew there.
the last time i saw them, the taste of goodbye
lingered on my lips like bread and wine and
i don’t know how to resurrect
hello after eight years of silence.
wandering through my old, ivied neighborhood,
i wonder if it missed me, and i kneel in my gethsemane,
and i trowel a hole through the memory of my home.
cultivar people in my new town
talk about that place and i think about
how the soil nourished me in that place.
but i don’t know that place anymore,
and after so long, it doesn’t know me.
even though i have sprouted since i got here,
i am still taking root because i am still floral homesick.
This piece was selected as a winner of the AAA’s AnthroDay Student Unessay Competition in the high school division. Inspired by the World on the Move exhibit, this year’s unessay competition focused on migration. Selected prompt: “Do you or your family have any stories about moving? If so, share one.”