My Dad Plants Papaya Trees When He Is Sad by Oni J

You walk to our front door,

You are greeted by unfurling papaya trees

Up to your knees.


“It is good luck to have unplanned fruit-bearing trees.”


This stubborn grove of papaya kin

Grew out of seeds sticky with spit.

Yes, we ate papaya slices voraciously

Juice dripping down our chins.

Gnawing at the orange core

We laughed,

Delighted in the wealth of our sandy loamy land.


You see my tito crouch so very low into the grass.

Why is he kneeling in the dirt?

He digs and digs into the Florida soil

While his spurting nangka, chico, and jacaranda trees

Sway,

Clapping their branches,

For a new seedlingsibling of theirs

Is to be born.


My house is made of red tiles, papaya, cream pillars,

Papaya, grey driveways, papaya, dry grass, & papaya.


Tito hoards papaya seeds like gold nuggets.

They glisten,

They are grey pearls resting at the bottom

Of trodden mud and wood chips.


We pay in papayas.

My uncle cries in papayas.

His hands remember Nanay’s hands

In papayas.

Oni J is a non-binary Pilipinx poet living in FL. They believe in the healing power of poetry and oral history. In their free time, they enjoy composting, baking, and finding new Pilipinx musicians to listen to.

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