Friday, April 1, 2011


Winter has decided to revisit us again this week in the Northeast. DC was spared snow today, but we got it on Sunday, and we've had freezing temperatures more than once over the course of this week. This is all occurring during peak season for the cherry blossoms, so it's kind of a source of cultural grief. The Cherry Blossom Festival is normally this really beautiful thing in DC... the trees were a gift from Japan, a sign of friendship and peace, and every time I've gone to the Tidal Basin to view the trees, I've been overwhelmed with gratitude to live in a place with such amazing diversity. EVERYONE comes out to see the blossoms. Families, couples, groups of friends... all shapes and sizes and colors and languages. It's just a beautiful time... so when the weather's poo and the trees are affected, it messes with that gorgeous moment in our local culture.

I have a cherry tree outside my window (that's him above), and he's definitely taken a hit from the weather (I don't know why the tree is a him... just roll with it). Normally, the blossoms on my tree are so full that I can't see to the sidewalk below, but the snow and cold have killed many of the buds before they've been able to bloom, so there are a lot of bare patches.

I don't wish the tree any ill will, but I've felt a kinship with him in this rough time, and I've been a bit grateful for it. If the tree had been in its usual full bloom during this time --almost the one year anniversary of my meeting Vince-- the irony would have been a little painful. It's a small (and perhaps pathetic) comfort, but the tree and I have an understanding right now. Ok, maybe not. But it makes me feel better.

Every morning since the earthquake hit Japan, NPR has awakened me with the latest news on the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. I wanted to write a poem drawing a comparison between this tree's resilience and that of those unbelievable workers at the plant who are basically accepting a death sentence in service to their entire region in a very direct and very certain way... but I can't do it. It's just a little too much for me to sit here in my comfy chair and write a poem comparing a tree to those incredible folks... so I wrote a poem about the tree and myself.


Cherry tree outside my window
I see the naked patches on your branches
where this wintry weather has
frozen off your nascent blooms.

But I am amazed by
those sturdy blossoming clouds
that refuse to succumb
despite freezing temperatures,
and snow,
and gusts of icy wind.

You and I are companions
weathering out this wretched winter
that has threatened us with dark and cold
that has killed off part of what made us alive.

But so many blooms remain.

If you can make it, so can I.