Monday, 7 May 2012

Sakura Season

It's Cherry Blossom Season! May. All blue skies and pink-petalled trees. I LOVE cherry blossoms! They're so beautiful. They have the wow factor, with the power to stop you in your tracks with their fluffy bunched blossoms beckoning and the petals swishing around in the wind like confetti.

There is something so special about cherry blossoms and whenever I see one, I'm stunned in my tracks. They are beautiful from a distance, their sprawling pink blossoms magnificent against a blue sky. Or even up close, where the papery flowers hang like decorations, their darker centre like a face. And petals softer than any Kleenex ad maintains!

They're especially special in Japan, where they are called 'sakura.' The cherry blossom is not only a thing of beauty for the Japanese, but also a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life. Impermanence is what they represent. They only bloom for a few weeks, then shed all their petals and return to ordinary green-leafed trees again.

But the Japanese make the most of this special time. They hold cherry blossom festivals - 'Hanami' (which translates as 'flower viewing') all over the country, where they come together in parks and gardens to picnic and hold parties beneath the trees, celebrating the beauty of the blooms and all the blessings that go with it. It's an annual custom that dates back many centuries in the country and has even spread to some places in America, and I'm sure, many an appreciative cherry blossom lover's garden worldwide.

I love this idea of Hanami, of celebrating the beauty that nature offers and with it, simultaneously, the blessings of friends, family, get-togethers and gratitude. And of course, the symbolic bloomings of our own selves, happiness, love, hope and everything else that flowers in this season.

What I love most of all about cherry blossoms is their ability to uplift. You can't help but feel buoyant when you see one. Their very appearance seems festooned for Spring. They are celebratory, waving bunched blooms around like pom-poms, a pink flush against the sky, and at their best when the petals are shedding and the ground below them becomes carpeted in pink.

I'm sure many of us missed the news story last year that occupied only a little square in the newspapers but represented so many ounces of hope - about the 1,000 year  old cherry blossom tree in Fukishima, blooming after the terrible nuclear disaster there.  Scientists and spectators alike were amazed to see the flowering of the cherry tree, not far from the plant itself, flowering in March last year. It represented a potent symbol of hope for the country.
(Read more about it here)

For me, cherry blossoms mean so many things, but namely: beauty, happiness, inspiration, hope - and a buoyant declaring of all these joyous Spring feelings. I've included a few of my own poems below celebrating the cherry blossom, as I'm afraid I couldn't find very many poems on them - does anyone know of any? Or even any of your own? I'd love to read them!

So whatever cherry blossoms mean to you - get out there and enjoy them while they're still here in all their baby-pink or cerise glory! Because like all things of great beauty, their allure lies in their transience.

~ Siobhán.

Cherry Blossom Haiku

Like careless pennies
lucky cherry blossoms fall
soft wishes granted.

Hanami Haiku

My heart sits under
falling pink cherry blossoms,
basking in blessings.


Cherry Blossom Blush

Each blossom is a blush.
Look closely and you’ll see,
beneath the bluster of blooms
a pale white petal, like a face
demure and pure;
and then, the delight
of its most striking part:
the inner cerise heart
at its centre, deep
and dark and sweet,
keeper of nectar secrets.
And how it has stained
the outer petals a pinched pink,
like a dye overrun;

just like love
has run through you
like a raspberry ink,
colouring every pale insignificance
into a tell-tale revelatory pink.

Now I see how you blossom
when I'm around,
long-held buds of love burst
into blushing blooms
in this Springtime of flowering sentiment;
now ripe-ready for shedding
like cherry blossoms falling
floating, fragrant and soft
from a blue sky smile,
their confetti petals
celebrating the tumble
to earth,
to telling,
to truth.
Each causing the ground beneath
to blush pink in acceptance.

But all before
transient Time
whooshes in like a wind,
and withers and wounds them
into tissued tears.

© Siobhán Mc Laughlin (May 2011)

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