it stood on the shelf in its plastic pot
among a row of plants you could buy
for a few dollars, you know, in ikea
where i was browsing that late evening
looking for things for our new place
we’d moved again

leaves like stars
some with five points, some six
fresh new green
maybe five inches tall
stems twisted to a plait to make a trunk
or just to make it look pretty

i thought, oh that would look
nice, in my corner by the computer
and without thinking much
i paid the few dollars
picked it up
along with a white ceramic planter

five yearlong summers have gone by
the usual ups and downs of life
failures, fears, wait for joy
cold cough sneeze, mounting weight
once a week – or less – amid all that
a little water for the plant with starry leaves

sunlight pours in
through the glazed window all day
right by my side stands the little plant
now it spreads its shade over me
the plaited trunk has taken on brown
plant? or should i call it a tree

what keeps it happy
what makes it grow
all i give it is a bit of water
and only when i remember to
the soil hasn’t been turned in years
no fertiliser, no nothing

is there something
it knows that we keep missing

the green is now a little mottled
the star tips catch a bit of brown
perhaps the roots choke in the tiny pot
but the new leaf is lifting its head on a node
the inches keep adding
and reach for the sun

where is my sun, i think
looking at the tree
wonder if it’ll some day
tell me
there’s knowing
in every vein patterned leaf

in every brown and woody branch
in the roots taking hold in the tight
embrace of dry old earth
in its gentle nod and shake
as it speaks to the breeze
or calls to the ants

what keeps it happy
what makes it grow
is it desire
or something we still can’t name

it’s all been here much before me
meeting the wild winds, getting to know
the way, whirling through time
writing stories of skies oceans galaxies
sentinels of history
voyagers of untravelled worlds

on a shelf in a shop
i saw this plant and now it is a tree

the other day, i thought i’d move the tree out to the balcony, it’s become too big for the desk. spent a restless few hours after that. finally, brought the tree right back to its spot by the computer. i may have imagined it but i could feel its disquiet, and it seemed to be talking to me, telling me to bring it back. in a form of communication i couldn’t understood, but something was getting through. strange. very.