An Inventory of Seeds: A Poem

Lately, I have been thinking of how the seeds that have been planted by years of practice are only sprouting forth now. And how some are still lying dormant in fallow earth, waiting for their time, not knowing if their time will ever come. And yet, how every word, deed, action, bears its fruit and has its purpose. And some contribute to necessary decay, which makes for fertile soil and good ground. We plant seeds that we forget, yet we can always trust their timing.

everything that grows and ripens

comes from a place of fallowness

and beyond that a place of dark soil

fertile unknown

parceled in

messy oblong garden plots of possibility

all of it could easily

become life

or death

or something in between

that never quite materializes

but remains a silent hum

on the astral plane

whatever makes it this far

is delivered into

a world of




its difficult passage is acknowledged

by cacophony and

a thankless slap on the rump

this morning

i thought i heard the voice of some

mouthless deity

its eyes spelled beauty and foreboding

its hands were long-stemmed roses

extending beyond the sleeves

of its funereal robe

what will your seed bring forth?

i was still beginning to awaken

rubbing sleep and the

dread of my undreamed dream

from my ocean-black eyes

i could feel my life unraveling

like a spool of thread traveling down

a paved dirt road

chased by headlights

or a trail of saliva dribbling

from my open mouth

i could see myself

shuttling forth

giddy with speed

unfurling and blossoming

a vulgar multifoliate plant

strangling myself on my own life

not fully understanding that

what i had deemed growth

was only the wild motion

of hunger

i could see myself

stretching up

then bowing beneath

my own excess

decaying into the nameless home

that exists beyond this

body house

i could see myself crushing this body

bone and sinew

blood and byways

ancestors and empty atoms

back into

the first kernel of life

that held me

dripping down the roots of

my family tree

i could see myself attempting to know

and unknow my life

in prayer

released from

this song of satire

this expanse of lingering

this identity stripped of its zodiac

free of labels

devoid of assigned worth

it was here

that i finally danced

it was here that i reveled

in the smallness of my seed

it was here that I tasted

the sweet fruit

my life

longed for me

to bring forth

I’m Nirmala Nataraj, a New York–based writer, editor, book midwife, theater artist, and mythmaker.

As someone who has woven in and out of a number of different word realms—nonprofit communications, advertising, theatre, publishing, and community arts, to name a few—I know that liberation is possible through the stories we choose to tell. As a first-generation South Asian American, I myself exist in the liminal spaces between cultures, art forms, and languages—and it is this multiplicity of narratives that informs my personal and professional approach.

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