The Winter Cherry

I’ve been fiddling with this and having trouble getting it right. This might just be the latest version…

Snow stopped falling long ago.

Only the oldest inhabitants remember

The hard years when snow

Would cut off house from house,

Obliterate the land with cruel beauty,

Freeze even moving waters.

They tell the worst of it in serious voices –

All kinds of hardship, even death.


Outside my window this New Year Day

A blossoming winter cherry reminds me of snow;

Reminds me of an old perplexity

Of wanting to remain and yet to go.

Such beauty on my doorstep

I don’t even have to step outside.

I think of coming spring –

Of the lambing.


Bury me under the winter cherry, I chant.

It can’t be done, you say; not here.

Then bury my ashes, my ashes will have to do

To let you know

That something kills you more than snow

And I will be under the winter cherry

Feeding the roots

And helping it to grow.


Your coat is flecked with something that looks like snow

Look, you say, laughing- snow!

It can’t be snow, I say; it isn’t white;

And you sigh- everything, you say, if you look

For long enough, is white –

I stood under the winter cherry

And a gust of wind threw blossom over me.

If you were buried there, it might be you.