Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bamboo - the Giant Grass

ouSpecies of Bamboo. Museum of Natural History,
University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Laguna

Perhaps the most useful plant is the bamboo, the giant grass.

Let me count the ways:
rope to textile to fan,
hut to tall buildings,

bag to basket to garung,
toy to piggy bank,
decor to
palo sebo game.

It traps dirt and binds mud,
keeps hills and mountains green,
ripraps levees and banks
from erosion and flood.

It's supple and strong,
best for scafolding
outrigger and mast,
and the finest fishing pole.

It recorded history
as ancient as the Scroll,
and the papyrus reed,
warns of El Niño
it blooms ahead.

It makes the finest kite,
the brightest lantern,
chopsticks for Lauriat,
including its labong.

It's a rainmaker's tool,
the earliest canon -
real or game, a gong,
a xylophone, pan pipe,
a church organ,

catches the wind,
muffles the sound of battle,
speaks in scary creaks,
hushes children to go home
before dark.

I am dwarfed
by this lowly grass
towering over my head
in praise and thanksgiving. ~

palo sebo - greased bamboo pole with a prize at the top - the object of the sport.
garong - large bamboo basket to store grains.
- bamboo shoot prepared as vegetable or pickle.

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