Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Tejano Considers Seeds

To flower from seeds,
to make roots from water
means there’s a tending

or soft beginning like tenderness.
Delicate young germination

from soil. My baby. My soil as a noun.
A piece of ground from the Old French for sol.
A native lightness. The sol rises in Texas too.

Rising like a verb, there’s no stillness
to the threshold—another word for the bottom of a door,
meaning there’s a sill soiled. A sill or cut timber. Laid
& crossed over. To soil a verb meaning

there is original sin, meaning before dirt
there was cleanliness. No entry, no violation

of God. A mess of seeds that needs
water. Give us a mess of thick mud. 

            Que chiquero.             Standing still like a cleansing
after a gentle roll-around. Wallowing in a field

como un puerco. Madrugando            con hambre—
I am your shepherd. I am ready for battle

with the pastured sky
you fought so hard against

their beanstalks growing upside down, reaching for hell.


Copyright © 2022 by Sebastián H. Páramo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 23, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem came from a workshop where we were given a prompt to use the Oxford English Dictionary to create a poem that interrogated the etymology of words. I knew other poems that did this, so I welcomed the opportunity to experiment with the prompt for my current work-in-progress set in Texas. This poem gave me an opportunity to examine those themes: place, language, and history. The ending of the poem gave me a struggle for some time until I followed the language and landed on something that surprised me.”
Sebastián H. Páramo


Sebastián H. Páramo

Sebastián H. Páramo is the author of Portrait of Us Burning, forthcoming in 2023 from Curbstone Press, an imprint of Northwestern University Press. The recipient of a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, he is a visiting assistant professor of English at Austin College and lives in Sherman, Texas.

Date Published: 2022-11-23

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