Dear Outdoor Asian family & friends,
Today, Madi Keaton shares a poem of sorrow and resilience - a reflection on family and their sacrifices of blood, sweat, & tears.
This week is immensely challenging for our community, yet it is our hope that this poem brings you some peace.
Please, pour yourself some tea and enjoy
Madi's Poem Tampopo ("Dandelion," from Japanese)
These days, I often mourn
the hedges arched by my blade
& gazebo beams trimmed
with empty hornet nests,
though I am still too timid to dip
my finger past the film that
blankets the nearby pond.
But I did face my fear of
& when I surveyed the coneflowers
and cosmos gathered at my
feet, I wondered:
"Why mix your sweat with the
dirt for the sake of the
butterflies and birds?"
You see, I had Earth caked
beneath my fingernails because I
wanted the books that Mother
could not buy.
And, I suppose even now
I still labor for the sake of
beauty and coin.
The theme of this poem is the intersection of nature and poverty.
My grandmother is an immigrant from Okinawa, Japan. I spent most weekends of my childhood playing outside and her yard had very Japanese features - hedges cut into perfect shapes, a gazebo, a koi pond, Japanese maples, etc. It was here that I developed a great love for the outdoors. However, during the second half of the poem, I lament about growing up poor and destroying the earth in order to purchase the things that I wanted but could not have as a child (my family owns a pottery shop, so the "Earth" refers not just to the soil of the yard but the clay I dug up and used to make money as well). Working hard as a child to earn money and spending time outdoors turned into my career - I have a B.S. in Environmental Science and currently work in environmental justice/poverty policy and law. I love my work dearly and would not want to be doing anything else, but I long for the days where I would relax outside in my grandmother's yard (both in fear and awe of nature) before I had a concept of money and work."
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