Memories of a Guava Tree

Memories of a Guava Tree

By Dawson Yee, age 13, grade 7, California.

My grandmother’s hands reach for my face
Feeling to be sure I am the child she remembers
Her mind has only enough space
for past Decembers.

My mother, father, and aunt turn in surprise
Her knotted hands grip my shoulders in recognition
With a teasing crinkle in her eyes
she calls my name, an intermission

Three years ago, she gave me a white guava seedling
With hardy red stems and elliptical leaves
She explained what it was needing
Learned from years of shielding it from disease.

Afterwards, she ushered me into the guest room, where she unearthed treasure:
An embroidered Japanese trinket box, a logic puzzle, an old plush toy
Her smiling eyes watched my curiosity with pleasure
As she entered the absurdly colorful world of a little boy.

But now we sit together watching nature shows
And she is like a sailor disappearing into a storm.
I can see her boat sinking but I’m not sure she knows
she’s lost her tiller and our roles will transform.

A logger chopping a tree flashes on the screen
She worries for the animals inside, knowing they are doomed.
I reach over her frail figure and push the remote to intervene
I tell her that our guava has finally bloomed.

—Dawson Yee, age 13, grade 7, California. Dawson writes:

“I see creative writing as a puzzle of wisdom. I’m 13 years old and in 7th grade but take high school English and philosophy at a local independent school. 

“I’ve also adored challenging myself to understand the symbolism behind not only prose such as in magical realism, but also the figurative language in poetry. When I recently analyzed “Boy and Egg” by Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, I found that searching for evidence of Nye’s purposeful line breaks and sound devices to convince a reader she was contrasting the innocence of a childhood immersed in nature versus the chaotic world to be beyond satisfying as a puzzle to solve. 

“I use my heritage as a third-generation Asian American to inform my writing, as it is an important part of how I view the world. I also write with an eye to health, both physical and mental, as I personally have several life-threatening allergies as well as Mass Cell Activation Syndrome, which shape my view of the world. My maternal grandmother, who recently passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, provided the basis for my poem “Memories of a Guava Tree.” In addition, I am influenced by my parents’ experiences as second-generation Americans growing up in predominantly non-Asian rural and inner-city U.S. communities and by my grandparents’ stories of the immigrant experience and their childhoods wrenched by memories of war and poverty. 

“I’m also an Event Coordinator for an online, international Asian American youth writers’ collective, Asian Youth Writers Alliance ( In the writing groups that I’ve found surrounding these events and projects, where my classmates and fellow writers are insightful and tactful, I feel I have the space to put the puzzle of wisdom together. I would love to connect with a multicultural and global community of young writers who share the same values as these online initiatives. In finding literary magazines like Skipping Stones to share my writing, I realize more and more that I’m truly searching for the exact kind of wisdom and togetherness it provides.”