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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