Plant a Million Trees (A Poem)

Billboard outside of Gandhi's Memorial in Delhi

Plant a Million Trees for the Monsoon

because the women of Africa have done this before you
and if Africa was the cradle of humankind
then you, India, were our first steps
and we must begin again, placing bare feet on the earth

Plant a million trees for the monsoon
because they are the earth’s lungs
and their out-breath is our in-breath
that we return to them to return to us

Plant a million trees for the monsoon
and thank them as they grow to shade us
from the intense heat of our slow learning
and the pain we have brought in our ignorance

Plant a million trees for the monsoon
one for each million we have killed needlessly
and across the world I will plant with you
handling with reverence, as the birds sing their names

Poplar, Maple, Oak, Walnut, Beech, Cherry, and the dying Ash
Banyan, Cork, Neem, Gulmohar, Mudilla, Pongam, and the Rain Tree

Yes, the Rain Tree

On the Delhi train

Passing by train before the monsoon