Beneath the Cherry Tree

Beneath the Cherry Tree
Dedicated to Kajii Motojirō (梶井基次郎)
December 1927

blossoms

I sit underneath the cherry tree
To rest and think
The earth is awake and has tilted
Until the sun shines and shares its light
With day and night
Like two children loved equally and
As each child knows,
Spring is here
And in Japan the cherry blossom flowers
Hanami begins,
Let us be happy, eat our dumplings, drink our sake
Let young and old gather beneath the tree to divine
When the time shall come to plant the rice
And with paper lanterns to light the night
To feel the gentle southern breeze
And shake off winter’s woes
Spring is here
Each morning brighter than before
The songbird’s song cheerier
The budding leaf greener, the flower fuller
Anticipating the fly or bee
Love is strange to plants
I think
The morning dew moistens the earth
But as Motojirō Kajii knows
Bodies are buried beneath the cherry trees
Bodies decomposing, ashes to ashes, and bones to dirt
Rising as sap to nourish the tree and make it grow
Even the beauty of the songbird’s song
The shimmering light in the white flowers and Spring’s warm breath
Cannot erase the thought of bodied buried beneath the cherry trees
I shake my head and still I know
Spring is here
And I want to say,
Arise, the earth is alive again

 

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