‘What a strange thing!

To be alive beneath cherry blossoms!’

Issa Kobayashi

 

I won’t take the Christmas tree down just yet.

I need all the magic I can get, you see, though it’s hard these days to believe.

This one has been glowering at me, sullen, since Boxing Day.

Baubles dropping from its branches.

Smashing.

Your days are numbered, mate, I tell it.

You’ll be out by the bins by weekend.

Out by the bins near the cherry tree.

 

Now the cherry tree.

I wish I could bring that in.

When I bought it ten years ago, it was nothing.

A stick in a pot that fit in the back of my Fiat.

The man at the village store said it would grow.

(He had a long red beard, this man, and a twinkle in his eye like magic.)

He said I’d be filling my breakfast bowl with cherries from it one day.

He promised.

But I only half-believed.

 

Just imagine if I’d done it.

If I’d brought it in.

No, I mean, really brought it in.

If I’d drilled down, not through the concrete in the shabby back yard.

But right down through the floorboards in the living room.

And planted it, there, pride of place.

Imagine if I’d drilled up through the ceiling and out through the roof.

If I’d made space.

 

Because now the cherry tree is taller than the house itself.

And by now its branches would be stretching out over my bed.

I could sleep in its shade.

I’d watch it.

I’d watch it all winter and I’d wait.

Rapt.

For the spring.

 

Then I’d lie each night beneath a blanket of blossoms softer than snow.

I’d feed on nectar when I woke and I’d climb to see the stars at night.

What dreams I’d have.

 

And when the sweet ripe fruit started to fall, I wouldn’t care that my sheets ran ruby-red with the juice and that my slippers were full of pips. I wouldn’t care at all.

I’d lie back on the pillows.

I’d fill my breakfast bowl, believing.