Ghost Blossoms

Early fall has the shimmer
Of a second spring.
The yellow oak echoes the forsythia,
The red maple deepens the rhododendron,
And the leaves pile soft and lush and fecund.
The air clears and chills,
Sparking the brain awake
The way spring light
First beckons you outside of winter’s home.
More than once I’ve wished,
Once the red and yellow drifted down,
The green would regrow
And we could skip the dark and cold.

But now in Japan,
From Kyushu to Hokkaido,
The cherries have bloomed
In October.
Because strong storms stripped
The leaves from branches
And then warm weather tricked
The blossoms into being.
But winter will still come
And the trees that flower now
Won’t bloom again in spring.

Here, in London, fall’s illusion is dead.
Trees look as if the wind
has bitten chunks
Out of their golden flesh, and let it dribble
Down its chin and to the ground.
They rise like hands from graves—
Half skeleton, half skin.
The time approaches when some cultures say
The borders between death and life are thinnest
And I’m reminded that apocalypse
Is just a mockery of miracle.

It’s now a favorite Easter joke
To praise a zombie Christ,
A joke that works because we’re in a time
Of collapsed boundaries.
And so we equalize the equinoxes,
Mesh April and October’s risen dead.
And why not?
Here we are,
For centuries taking spring for life,
About to be summered to death.

Image credit Takashi Hososhima / CC BY-SA 2.0

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