Aunt Louise listed her garden chores on a chart
in the laundry room next to the garage
where she tended her collection of bonsai.
In the careful work of repotting each tree,
she found and trimmed its feeding root.
How the roots are pruned affects the growth,
reducing and slowing the process.
If the roots feather out, fine as lace,
the tree will not outgrow its container.
Some trees grow in ridges, with long lifelines.
Some have trunks that swell smoothly.
Consider the difference between juniper
and pomegranate. No pine is like another.
Light must enter the branches for buds
to regenerate. Starting from the inside,
she removed old, dry foliage with a tweezer
and left new growth. Her practice
benefited from her methodical nature.
It took two years for her to master
the techniques of bonsai and the rest
of her life to comprehend
the unique language of each tree.