by Jennifer Grotz
What might be universally beautiful is hard to imagine,
perhaps only the sunrise and sunset,
perhaps the moon. If on earth,
it might be cherries,
loved by the fierce and tender, eaten
by birds and foxes, and what humans don’t take
are claimed by little green worms.
It’s the time of year everyone stops what they’re doing to eat them.
Pits bundled in animal scat nestle between cobblestones.
For these few weeks they gleam in every tree
the whole world seems not only edible but delicious.
Is there a pleasure in the mind like this simple sugar,
cherry joy—the whole mouth involved in
plucking the fruit from the resistant stem,
tongue, teeth, and lips cooperating in slipping the sweet flesh
englobing the pit, wet, belly-beautiful
in the dexterous mouth able to
collect and hold two or three in one cheek before
spitting them out. Nothing is more true than the body
then, how it is made to consume pleasure, for pleasure
to pass through. But the mind
is made to ponder it, to hold on. The mind of Japanese samurai
held the cherry as an emblem for the warrior, he who
breaks the skin and sheds the flesh and blood
to find the solid core within.
I have watched the cherries turn from pale yellow to dark as olives
I have picked them straight from the tree, red and obvious from afar
but up close hiding between lush leaves, little clumps of them,
I have used a ladder for what I could not reach
and for those even higher, I beat against the branches
until a cherry rain pelted down. I have picked up caved-in,
oozing rotten ones in search for the sturdy that have fallen.
And I have savored the brown rustle
that dissolves in the fingers reminding that each one was
a flower first, but that’s all I want of
memory, I think, the distorting entrails of the mind.
Or so I resolve until I’m sated
and staring up into the night, eager to pluck the stars.