My grandmother is the kind of tree
who stares into the soul of the hurricane
and says, "You do not belong here."
who stands her ground as tornadoes
and tsunamis attack,
and sits assuredly after the storm has passed
with only a few leaves worse for wear.
She is one who continues to glare
as the hurricane blinks in disbelief,
calm in the presence of such resilience,
quiet in the presence of such persistence,
and still in the presence of such will,
while she, never sure when the battle is done,
continues to yell and fight.
Never showing a tear when branches break off.
Not one to bend when taller trees steal the last rays of sun left.
Not one to flinch when her own wilting flowers ask for more than she has to offer.
She finds a way.
No matter what crosses her path.
She is the type of tree that survives the storm.
My mother is the type of tree
who does not cry for water
even though her leaves are withering,
who does not beg for dirt
even as her roots crack,
who does not demand shade
even when smoke sizzles from her bark.
She is the kind of tree that survives the desert.
And even though the apples and pears she used to cherish
have been replaced with switches
and her brittle branches get weaker still,
she stands strong.
Sure of her path.
Sure of herself.
Even if she never leaves.
Making do with the little she has left
she gives her shade to those who ask.
A shadow many cannot live up to;
no matter how tall they make themselves out to be.
I am the seedling they spent centuries cultivating.
whose barks protected me from howling winds before I could fly away,
whose leaves nurtured me when the drought would throttle me,
whose resources they gave in excess when they had little to spare,
made me from the scars on their phloemes,
where their dreams were ripped from.
And though I am still growing
I already know I am not cut from their type of leaf.
I tell myself I am still figuring out what type of tree I will be.
But wheat if there is no kind that is just for me?
Maybe I am my own genus of tree:
with roots that build mountains from eroded pebbles,
with leaves that forever reach higher, hoping to tickle the stars,
with flowers, fruits, and shade alike that come in quality not yet seen.
And even though these aspirations may ask more of than I have to give,
I will find a way.
And even though many will take what I am not offering,
I will stand strong.
I have learned to survive storms and droughts alike because they have shown me how.