The Bonsai & Family Tree

Photo by Zulian Yuliansyah on

At the end of the summer, I bought a bonsai tree. I planned to bring it to school to enrich the ambiance of my classroom (so much wall-to-wall gray!). For a few weeks, it served as the unique centerpiece of our kitchen table. With all of the light in the observatory (our dining/living room area), the bonsai flourished. I printed directions for the care and training of the tree and began the recommended routine maintenance. I watered the plant when the top inch of the soil felt dry, I ordered fertilizer, and I began pruning unwanted growth.

Late in August, I took the bonsai to school. Quickly he became known as Mr. Miyagi, in honor of the wise sensei from the original Karate Kid films. But by early November, he didn’t look healthy. I wondered if he was getting the necessary light. I also discovered what looked like white mold beneath the lichen layer that covered the soil. It was time to take Mr. Miyagi home.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been tending to the ailing tree. Once again, he finds himself in the observatory. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing: observing him. With pen and Moleskine journal in hand, I’ve been pruning my words to fit the haiku syllabic and line count. What this poem captures is the care required to tend to these structures from which we can derive such life, if we’re willing to put in the work: the haiku form, the art of bonsai, and all the life, despite the struggle, to be found within loving homes.

Life in Miniature

Vincent H. Anastasi - 2021

the potted bonsai's
prematurely browned leaves fall
as winter draws near.

i prune sickly leaves,
lovingly tend the soil -
water as needed.

the absence of sun
in Western Pennsylvania
starves the ailing tree.

but within these walls
life affords the fertile soils
for abundant growth

despite darker days,
dysfunction and diseased roots;
the family tree

thrives in loving hands,
like arborists' tender care -
life in min'ature.

One thought on “The Bonsai & Family Tree

  1. Oh you do the most amazing things in such miniature yourself!!! There seems to be a rich trove in this bonsai analogy. . . Perhaps there is more? I wait. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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