By: Clare Chu
Haiku, In Celebration Of Cherry Blossom, Sakura
Spring, full moon madness struck, the exquisitely
calm people celebrate the first vivid blossom,
the wild parrot people splay and dash around
and around, heads buried in their squawking chaos,
Snowflakes dance away,
with my frozen heart I watch
cherry blossom fall.
I am trying to decide what to let slide, I wonder
and wander amongst weeping trees,
Shidare-zakura, in DC, not where I would like
to be (in Kyoto), homesick, lovelorn,
Windswept snow retreats,
on water lit by lanterns
cherry blossom floats.
I gaze skyward through the first vivid blossom,
blue thoughts drift under a canopy of pink,
bare feet crush fallen petals, a single blossom drops,
in slower motion than my hand as I reach for it
and accidentally (or not) squeeze
the life out of it.
Ice melts on wet moss
scattered on the cold stone step,
this deep longing hurts.
Amber shadows stretch over the malachite pond,
I have no friends left under the wilted lotus,
the price of staying is much too high,
the breeze that beckoned me is long gone—
if I went up to the hills I could enjoy seclusion,
but for now I can only guess
where the ducks hide their dreams.
Clare Chu was raised in Malta and England, and has adopted Los Angeles as her home. She is an art curator, dealer, lecturer and writer who has authored and published twelve books and numerous academic articles on Asian art. She studies poetry in the UCLA Extension Writers Program and at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center. This year she was a participant in San Miguel Poetry Week. Her poetry is prominently featured in a continuing collaboration with Hong Kong-based calligraphic and landscape painter Hugh Moss, in which poet and artist challenge and expand traditional media boundaries. Her poetry was recently accepted for publication by The Esthetic Apostle, a Chicago-based literary and arts magazine and by The Raw Art Review.
"HAIKU, IN SEARCH OF CHERRY BLOSSOM:
I have always been interested in the forms of haiku and tanka as a way of expressing myself using pared down imagery. I initially wrote this prose poem without the haiku, remembering vividly the impact of the cherry blossom festival in Washington, D.C. years ago at a point in my life when I felt very alone. In the event it was not quite what I had imagined, being rather chaotic, with crowds of people flocking to see the blossom! I often write poems in tandem, although they are not always about the same subject. In this case, as I was writing the prose poem I felt strongly that I should be writing haiku at the same time and then at some point it made sense to integrate the pieces, almost like fitting a puzzle together.
As a dealer in Chinese art I often come across inscriptions on objects which are poems, or parts of poems, composed by poets of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 ce) such as Li Shang Yin and Du Mu. The Tang Dynasty is considered by many, including myself, to be the Golden Age of Chinese poetry and as the Dynasty progressed the Tang poets used their writing to reflect on the hopelessness of the common people in the face of a deteriorating government. This poem is reflective of that sentiment. If it is read with this in mind, I think it becomes a totally different poem."