"Sakura no Sono" by Linda Watanabe McFerrin
"And the branches of the cherry trees were lit with flames, the sparks—petals of fire, carried on the wind."
In the early spring cherry trees are often described as being ablaze with blossoms. This is a good, if commonplace, description of that strange and enormous pink event which spreads through the treetops and consumes the sky in a colorful flurry. In "Sakura no Sono," an apocalyptic vision of a real event which happened to her mother, Linda Watanabe McFerrin's cherry blossoms have been struck ablaze by an American firebombing.
"And all around you, the cherry orchard
a maze of black-trunked trees
like torches dipped in rags and oil
Set in her family's cherry orchard, her mother, a survivor of the firebombing, runs through the aisles of trees with a knife in her chest. Linda shares this memory with us in the form of a poem. Like the old hat about the cherry blossoms ablaze, this poem containing a memory of true horror, of war and pain, is oddly familiar yet completely surprising. Listen to Linda read her poem "Sakura no Sono" (the cherry orchard) below.
Navigating the Divide is a career-spanning, multi-genre collection from the award-winning indie literature legend, Linda Watanabe McFerrin. In poetry, essays, and fiction that are often profoundly personal and astoundingly surreal, this world traveler and literary explorer busts walls, erects bridges, and ambiguates genre. This multi-faceted collection sets out to attempt its namesake, to “navigate the divide” – between spiritual and physical, between thought and desire, between individual and collective.