Sestina for Yoshino Cherries
We stand newborn, beneath the cherry trees.
A gift transplanted in mid-life,
within a cloistered mall with blossoms
drifting pink, whose breathing limbs are dying.
Transformed this barren space to sacred,
freed from ROTC boots that march in place
and trample mud. Walkways made of brick replace
dirt paths, to knit these 30 cherry trees
into a fragile dome. In spring each well-pruned, sacred
branch extends its petals, spreading life
while thoughts of winter die
in shadows of Yoshino blossoms.
They brought each tree that blossoms
from Japan, to put into our Arboretum place.
Construction plans pulled transplants dying,
bare roots flung on flat bed trucks to move these trees,
to give them one more chance at life.
Deeply pruned, persisting sacred,
swelling full, into our sacred
refuge soft by terra cotta walls and blossoms.
Where halls of learning sprout new life,
and lovers press their lips in place
beneath Yoshino cherries
long before we ever thought of dying.
But now, we know these trees are dying.
This Quad that holds each fissured trunk, sacred
patterns etched on gnarled cherries,
grieves those we've lost, while others blossom.
We keep a vigil on this place
that ages, and still gives us life.
Saplings planted side by side, bring new life,
as one by one we watch our elders dying.
Refusing them to leave this place,
our anniversaries held sacred.
We celebrate each blossomed,
blushing season of these 30 cherry trees.
Trembling blossoms, petals dying,
Swirling sacred into corners of our lives
that shorten as Yoshino cherries leave this place.
Ann Batchelor Hursey
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