I write poetry inspired by Teachers found in Nature; giving voices to stars, stones, trees, animals, the water we drink and many other wise muses found in the Universe of All Our Relations. Each time I write, I hope to share my love our World and connect with readers, inspiring them to think about each new Singer in an entirely new way. I have always found every aspect of Nature endlessly inspiring. With this particular poem I sat down thinking, “Ok, I want to write about a Tree and today I feel like writing about the Cherry tree.” So, first I brainstormed all the words or concepts that came to mind. Then I began reading botanical and herbal information as well as stories, legends and cultural traditions about Cherries.
My next list was clues I wanted to work into the poety- things like, cherry bark is the main ingredient in many modern cough syrups as Cherry has helped us combat coughs for centuries. Or, how it is associated with concepts like Love and Innocence. To the Samurai, the Cherry blossom represents the pure sweetness of life which passes so quickly. It’s brief but stunning white banner of windblown blossoms each Spring reminds that while Death is an inevitable part of Life, it is quickly followed by new Life in a never ending cycle. Therefore, we should work to live an exemplary life, savored and appreciated in all that we do, that when our time comes we can let go of this life and pass on eagerly to our next experience in the cycle.
A few verses are quickly ready and I post it as a game; a poet-tree seed planted. Everyone takes turns guessing who is singing in today’s poem. Hmm, it seems like I haven’t given enough information. I sit down again, I think about the Cherry and all that I could say that has not found a verse yet. We refer to the seeds of cherries as pits or stones. So, a new life begins from a stone for a Cherry. Ooh, I like that poetic image! Hmmm… In spring cherry trees are a snowy drift next to the beautiful backdrop of the sky, and all those blossoms come to fruition in the form of ripe red cherry. I brew a cup of cherry berry tea and imagine in my mind’s eye the countless Ancestors who gathered this fruit, feeding and doctoring their families throughout the ages. The seed becomes a sprout.
Cherries are also symbols of beauty, youth, springtime and fertility; often included in wedding ceremonies and bridal wreaths, or to make cradles. Cherries are a natural anti-inflammatory and a cup a day helps combat arthritis. Cherries are long-lived compared to many plants reaching ages up to 200 years old. A Chinese legend tells of a goddess and the cherry tree in her garden that ripen every 1000 years; providing immortality to those who eat of them (much like the Greek/Roman golden apples) Because the wood of cherry trees was thought to keep away evil spirits, their branches were placed over doorways on New Year’s Day and guardian statues were carved from this wood. The sprout digs roots deeper, stretches leafy limbs higher, greedily drinking in the light of Inspiration.
I remember golden afternoons looking up at a bright blue sky through a pink drift of cherry scented perfection, the texture of ruffled-edged leaves warm from the sun, the cool gnarled bark of the roots as they gripped the moist Earth. More lines spill through me, pouring out my fingers as I type. I post again. People read and share their thoughts; feeding and watering the song of the Cherry. The poem grows into the shape of a Cherry Tree at last, and the Teacher is named! Then I share an excerpt of what will become that Teachers chapter in a book not yet written, sharing my love of All My Relations…
White as snow,
this Teacher’s vernal banner unfurls.
Red as heart’s blood,
her Wisdom ripens in luscious pearls.
for a century or two,
emblem of Beauty
and all that is true…
“My wares are
devoured fresh, juiced,
or baked in pies.
Felled in fable by a boy who
could tell no lies.
Innocent as Love’s first kiss,
I quiet winter coughs,
and evoke joyful bliss.
I ease aching bones,
and bring forth
new life from stones!
Grace, Protection and
to every child
I will bequeath.
to every blushing bride
beneath my wreath.
Savor my sweetness
for the illusion of Life
Release that which
no longer serves you!
and from ashes
I bear the wisdom
inspiring Honor, Faith and Trust
to swell within your beating heart.
only Love to enter,
I turn aside
spirits of ill intent
when your threshold
I will show you the path
of the Gentle Warrior;
My challenge to you is to take a poem you’ve already written and first write the story behind the poem. What does it mean to you as the writer? What inspired it? Was it your muse’s fault and if you’re going to blame your muse, what was he/she/it thinking? Then follow up with your poem.
That goes for you too, Mr. Richard Lynn Livesay. No poet is exempt from this challenge.
Oh, and Bernard, don’t think I won’t be keeping an eye on you.
Don’t respond by posting poetry about poetry. (someone’ bound to break this rule). Remember, I’ll be waiting and watching with keen bluebird eyes. Can you poets do it?
P.S. If you’re not a poet, do it anyway. Make up a story and then the poem (or the other way around).
Keep in mind, this is a monitored group and there are only a couple of rules, which are:
Make sure you put this (WWE, 11/28/12, Payback) in your title.
Be sure to tag it with WWE, Gather Writing Essentials, Payback. Post to Gather Writing Essential.
I ask that you make your submission(s) by next Tuesday afternoon.
There is a limit of three submissions from each member per day. If you’re extremely prolific, spread out your work and post only three submissions per day.
Put this challenge statement at the beginning or end of your submission so readers will know what you’re supposed to do and won’t think you’re crazy.
Challenge: Take a poem you’ve already written and first write the story behind the poem. What does it mean to you as the writer? What inspired it? Was it your muse’s fault and if you’re going to blame your muse, what was he/she/it thinking? Then follow up with your poem.
Below are responses to prior challenges – awesome reading.
Another Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving WWE, 11/21/12, On Off, by Charles Ashurston
off and back on or not, by Karen Vaughan
Speed Dating with Androids, by Doug Westberg
How Do I Get To I-5?, by G.M. Jackson
Was it tofu, hamburger, or was it simply love? , by Angela A.
For Bluebird, by richard lynn livesay