CHERRY

Monday 21 March, 2022 - UK National Poetry Day 

 

A slim stack of leaflets in my fist

we tread the streets, Al, Avril, Ricky and I.

Time to make them notice us, that electorate.

We need to try.

Broken concrete, dog poo, lines our path.

Hard to persuade the punter,

who in the end, it must be said, enjoys the last laugh,

for at least I stutter

about how much better

our party could make their life.

Hard to front up to a man whose wife,

lost to pandemic, was then barred from his goodbyes.

Married at sixteen was he,

bearing children ere he was twenty.

Sighs.

Tears.

(Shut up and think of that ye wannabes,

I hear the God of Politics goad down the years.

Make that better, the voice defies.)

 

In Govan, once a power-house of wealth, now bald, ill-plucked by

southern greed, are lives among ruins that Westminster sucked dry.

Yet people grin, for there is always a surprise,

often quite literally around the corner, not far.

And so it is.

Two cherry trees bloom at a distance from each other, as if they too wish to spar.

Standing, as it were, face to face,

punchy on a common green,

their roots snowed over with discarded waste.

Grass barely seen.

Opposite, drawing deep on electronic cigarettes,

young men, ill-shod, loiter of a weekday afternoon

with some fragile ferment of malcontent.

(For who is young, and aye, male,

but a man who's vision for himself has been stolen,

surrendered, or just plain pushed to fail?)

I turn from them to the cherry blossom and back again, at least twice.

The men.

Then the wreck.

It's hard to know where one begins and one may end.

My head moves to and fro on a tennis-crowd neck.

How beautiful the blossom, I say to them,

then, burst the brilliance of smiles unrestrained.

Oh aye, oh aye, comes their refrain,

so beautiful, and not a peek of flowers before today.

All this, a broad sweep of fake fag,

all this, pink and white cherry, just this morning! they say.

And, distant, beyond the trees, among the debris,

a rail thin man, at his tattered caravan, raises a salute.

 

We are here fewer than fifteen minutes, Al, Avril, Ricky and I,

with our leaflets, our hearts full of hope that ideas, then change, might fly.

Our view that we can make a difference, know some better route.

While all the while the world is before us, vain, hopeless,

and yet, and yet, astonishingly determined, still touched by beauty.

 

Perhaps the arc of life bends toward hope, as cherry blossom bends toward fruit.