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‘Sakura, Sakura’

             Aboard a plane before sunrise you find

yourself flying over a field of fluff,

a hilly country of cumulus clouds,

when the alpenglow of March flows in,

flooding the cabin, and you’re seven again.

             It’s only a week since grandmother died.

There’s mud beneath your nails. Your fingertips

iridesce with the scales of the goldfish

you just buried under the cherry grove.

The trees are in bloom and you climb one,

poising yourself on a branch so high

you can see pink treetops cresting, falling,

reaching a horizon more white than pink.

The haze of blossoms undulates until

the voices that summon you down grow still,

until a shiver runs up to the crown

and sends you tumbling with pale pink petals.

             You lift your eyes twenty-five years away

and find yourself descending through the clouds.

Mason Jabbari is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Michigan, where he teaches composition classes while writing up a dissertation on Victorian practices of literary translation.

“Spring always fills me with an anxious energy that is at once joyous and melancholy—a state of mind that the Japanese folk song Sakura, Sakura (i.e. Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms) captures beautifully. Naturally, when I was prompted to write a seasonal poem for the last assignment in Jodie Hollander’s Speaking in Tones: Crafting Musical Poetry, it did not take long to settle on a subject. Starting with the lyric to the song, I freewrote my way into a couple of linked but forgotten memories, and the images began to pour out. The main challenge was to find and maintain a rhythm capable of carrying the images across. I feel so lucky to have taken Jodie’s class as she helped me to tune my ear. Thanks to her course, I’m beginning to hear the sound of poems, mine and others’, and although this is the first step in a long process, I believe there are already lines in the featured draft that please the ear.”

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Image Credits:

Elyse Chia