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Milkweed Seeds

For Commander Nhan

I am an Other,

my differentness worn on my face,

expressed in my every breath,

spoken in the stiffness of my spine. 

You welcome me, but you could not 

forget that if you tried

and nor can I. 


My mother used to wrestle prickly greens 

from soil so hard it hurt to dig,

where even the simplest act of creation

came with sweat and struggle,

and there were no silken petals at the end.

That was what I called home.


That’s why I love your milkweed seeds,

the promise of new life in long, graceful pods

on gossamer threads

ready to scatter on the winds in slow motion.


They’re survivors;

the genome of a milkweed plant 

contains within its ribbons

all the milkweed plants that came before– 

Like them, I made the choice to float away.


I serve my home by leaving it.

I took to the air

and now I thrive in it

despite the fact that it would kill me

if I let it.

I vibrate with purpose, 

pointed toward the distant stars

where duty is spelled out in

endless points of light. 


I am a catalog of all my mothers’ wisdoms

and all my fathers’ strengths, 

the sum total of generations of civilization,

of evolution from water to mud to trees to 

houses and then cities.

The refusal to be erased is written on my bones.


I’m hard enough to thrive no matter where,

even when I plant myself in air.

Even when I take root in the sky 

in a moment of wanton evolution. 

I am reckless enough, or brave enough, 

to be the next stage. 


We forget sometimes

that to grow, even the hardest seeds

crack open. 

To put down roots they must soften,

mingle with what surrounds them,

release their strings of tissue full of DNA,

share the sacred code

passed down through millenia. 


Your welcome gives me fertile soil

where my Otherness takes root

where my loneliness is eased 

by cracking open, 

by growing, blooming,

manifesting the hundred generations 

as they culminate in me.

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