Tuesday, May 7, 2013

weeping cherry

Rakusan Tsuchiya, woodblock print, "Weeping Cherry and Japanese Bush Warbler (Mid Spring)"

I've been thinking a lot about weeping cherry trees of late. About how stunningly beautiful they are this time of year (in Vermont). About how I'd like to plant one in my yard. About how Owen Cricket's placenta is still in the bottom drawer of my freezer, waiting to be planted under the perfect tree in just the perfect place (as my placenta is buried under a 35 year old apple tree in my parents' field and Avah's  is buried under a four-year-old star magnolia outside my kitchen window).

I've also been thinking about the end of the world as we know it (reminded by this) and how now is the time to start planting edibles--apples, pears, peaches--and that an ornamental cherry is a beautiful but superficial relic of an another time, a time when we could afford to spend money and time planting trees and bushes and flower that look pretty but won't feed us or those we love when the going gets tough.

I also went for a birthday shop this morning, using my gift certificate to the local bookstore to buy myself a couple new books of poems to carry me through the summer, including Come, Thief, by Jane Hirshfield, whose book The Lives of the Heart was one of the very first books of poems I truly knew and loved.

And so when I brought the book home and opened the cover I was delighted to read this poem, which by no-means answered my cherry tree dilemma but helped illuminate the intense specificity of my yearning. Once you've read French Horn I hope you'll let me know what kind of tree you would buy, water and plant in your yard atop your son's placenta in the cusp-ish and rocky year of 2013 (and maybe go buy yourself a book of poems too, for if life as we know it is coming to an end, I certainly want a bookshelf well stocked with words like this).


French Horn

For a few days only,
the plum tree outside the window
shoulders perfection.
No matter the plums will be small,
eaten only by squirrels and jays.
I feast on the one thing, they on another,
the shoaling bees on a third.
What in this unpleated world isn't someone's seduction?
The boy playing his intricate horn in Mahler's Fifth,
in the gaps between playing,
turns it and turns it, dismantles a section,
shakes from it the condensation
of human passage. He is perhaps twenty.
Later he takes four bows, his face deepening red,
while a girl holds a viola's spruce wood and maple
in one half-opened hand and looks at him hard.
Let others clap.
These two, their ears still ringing, hear nothing.
Not the shouts of bravo, bravo,
not the timpani clamor inside their bodies.
As the plum's blossoms do not hear the bee
nor taste themselves turned into storable honey
by that sumptuous disturbance.

-Jane Hirshfield