one of the flowers that is dear to the japanese is the sakura, the cherry blossom. the sakura tree is completely barren throughout the winter, then bursts forth in a brilliant display for a week or two in the spring. then the delicate petals are gone and replaced by unremarkable foliage until the fall. throughout the long year, the cherry has its one moment of glorious, almost blinding beauty.

a.e.housman had this to say about the cherry blossom:

loveliest of trees, the cherry now
is hung with bloom along the bough,
and stands about the woodland ride
wearing white for eastertide.

now, of my threescore years and ten,
twenty will not come again,
and take from seventy springs a score,
it only leaves me fifty more.

and since to look at things in bloom
fifty springs are little room,
about the woodlands i will go
to see the cherry hung with snow.

in my lifetime, i’ve had a single week to appreciate the sakura in japan. i think now on the transient beauty of the sakura and my heart aches–i want so much to see the vision more clearly, to have the memory burned into my brain like a photograph. but i remember the emotion, the ache that i felt as i looked at the tree in bloom, more than the sakura itself.

maybe it isn’t as beautiful as i imagine it. maybe my mind has made more of the memory over time.

are we like the sakura blossoms? do we each have one moment to burst forth brilliant and radiant and white, before we drift away and dissolve back into the earth?::

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