Care Instructions

for Liz on her forty-second birthday

About that little
bonsai tree. Note its
uneasy perch, how
its roots just catch in

the dry moss. It needs
water every three
or four days and wants
light too, those weblike

branches, the tiny
leaves barely clinging.
As the man who sold
it said, “A living

thing requires care,”
and then showed us how
he had twisted its trunk
when it was young, since

the point is not just
to keep it stunted
but to leave your mark.
What amazes me

is how it remains
itself, essential
in that pot. Can you
imagine it free?