The Banana Tree - A truly Native Southern Tree

On a visit maybe five years or more ago, Debra and I walked Mongo thru my wilderness wonderland (now scheduled for the axe of gentry development called Chatham Park where the wild will succumb to unimaginable hordes of the 1% enlarging the town I've called home for a quarter century from  6,000 souls to 60,000!  Selden and I with Mongo and so many friends have had 12 magical years of exploring this Haw River experience, it's hard to have any regrets, plus I'll be dead and dust before the new Utopia is completed!) with the trails she chose, we broke, I maintained.  We stopped at one of our many rest stops we call Banana Tree Station.  A green bucket with yin/yang and USMC decals stuck to its sides is the only comfort piece of this facility.

*Note:  The poem below is by Debra Dean, a long time senior student of LaoMa's.  It was published in One, an online journal!  ( The poem is placed towards the end, but it should be noted that according the editor, this issue is meant to be read "cover to cover" like a book.

In a recent Facebook post, Debra included the two pictures of the tree as well.  If you look closely, you can spot the willow effect.  It's most visible in the first photo and shows as a slanting dark diagonal line in the top right corner.  You can also see the bucket!


Banana Tree1

for my taiji teacher LaoMa
on his 72nd birthday

Aimless as I am
I could never find it
on my own, nor find

what is found there:
under a canopy of tall trees
a black-leaved sapling turned

willow, beside which my root
sinks so deep, I might believe
I’d emerged somewhere in China,

my guide a man made honorary mare
by a cow’s gift of a heart valve.
Say that Old Horse is the very Earth.

Say that very green upturned
five-gallon plastic bucket
is a tortoise on which I sat

Banana Tree2

beside a wiry man holding
his staff—it’s a snake, you know,
old as the one Moses owned.

With the one I borrowed,
it’s leaning against a tree.
From his vest pocket,

two bananas. I eat one.
The peels lie on my thigh
like beached octopi in the quiet

of that uncertain place.
One at a time, he picks up
the peels by the stem end,

hangs each on a bare spot
of the banana tree—ah!—
laughing now, I am

beside myself, eyes tearing
for everything taken
and given, alive again

in the memory of it,
in the pale fresh peels
like blossoms,

like the bird’s beak
of my hand not yet closed
in Single Whip,

in those soon-to-be
new leaves, draped as if
brought forth from within

and sprung from the branch,
each taking its place
among the others gone black.