When the Plum Tree Blossomed
No one saw the plum tree this year ease
into its cloak of springtime blossoms
in the same week the forsythia
proclaimed the sun, in the same week
the hospital demanded all the living
we could muster. No one watched new buds
prepare for lace in the ironic promise
of fruit that will not come in later spring.
There was a year when plums formed and
dropped from this isolated, barren tree
despite the certainties of borrowed science,
and there have been years spent far from
the hospital and far from ironic promises
of a spring that never stops arriving,
each time to blossom and bear fruit against
familiar probabilities. No one saw the plum
tree come into full bloom this year;
even so, it remains our godly gift
to watch over it while each petal falls
and each tender leaf searches for its shape.
by Kenneth Salzmann, first published in Cyclamens and Swords.
Editor’s note: The repetition of word and imagery in this poem emphasizes the relentless nature of life and death and our place in this cycle. The last line is perfectly sad.