the growing


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liquid seeping through the ground
and the life that sprouts is but
a tiny strand of green and white;
a root hugs the earth, a new leaf
fixes face toward space and time
azure now, then gray and windy
and when some dogs bark, a spine
quivers gently a consciousness.

one branch now then another
each with effort on its own way
gaunt and birch, naked alone
or crisscrossing as a foliage
to the rustle of a restless world.
a unity varies with the growing
and stalks depart as seasons lash
through dark and light where fragile sprouts
are no more certain than as before.

© 1978 SSJ

Author’s note:

Life starts meekly and uncertain as a sprout, and grows into a tree, retaining its tremulousness as it lashes back at the seasons, suspecting all along that it can only grow certain with being uncertain.

This poem, first titled ‘The Growing’ was originally part of a poetry collection Mt. Tumantangis and Other Poems on Sulu, written under the pen name Isnani. The collection won one of the top prizes of the University of the Philippines Writers Club literary contest in the late 1970s.  In April 1980, it was published in Focus Philippines magazine under the title ‘liquid seeping through the ground’ as part of another poetry collection Looking Back Into Ten Years.

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4 Responses to the growing

  1. Imelda says:

    I gather from your text that you are from the Philippines? I ask because I am a Filipino living abroad who is excited to meet a compatriot. 😊

    • Hi, Imelda. Yes, I grew up in Sulu and graduated university in MetroManila. I’ve been mostly out of the Philippines since then 😊. Good to meet you. It’s a pleasure reading your blog! Thanks.👍

      • Imelda says:

        oh, wonderful. 🙂 I am so glad to meet you. I myself have emigrated to the USA. I have been here for more than 12 years.

  2. Pingback: Looking Back Into Ten Years | Sand … Stars

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