Banyan Tree Before the Civic Center, Honolulu

Hairy
like a man wearing a dress.
You don’t speak with me the way the others
do, who tell me,
by green effort, by every half-drowning
and abdomen-push of new leaf,
they want to be trees,
trees tall enough to see over the trees.
You’ll stay here and spread out, you say,
in a rumble of a voice
muffled by hair.
You are growing all up out of yourself!
Your roots are branches
so your leaves are the lawn!
If that’s the way you are going to be—
deluxe, warm, a sexual fence
with the shapeliness of the many—
then you may have to be an entire nation
yourself,
just yourself in the center and also at the edges.
Who will want anything to do with you?
You get all over us.
You are an old man at heart.
I want to pity you,
freak among nations made up of individuals,
for you are an individual
composed of multitudes.
When a man wears a dress
or has so many legs,
it will always be noticed,
unless he is trying to pass for a tree.
—Marvin Bell