Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

December 18, 2021 0 By Anton

A few miles away from the village, passing through a small woodland area, at the edge of the forest, a lone cherry tree stood in full blossom. A spectacle of dazzling white, soft pink and red spots formed an aureole above a grey-brown bark. The tree was there since before the village was born, hundreds of years ago. It was an ancient shrine of nature, shrouded in mystery and thought by many to be a child of God.

One late afternoon in April, against a burning sky on which shades of melting orange, bright yellow and painful red stood crucified in a splashes of colour so heavy that the hearts of poets began to sing, and the tongues of singers began to recite verses, a man kneeled beneath the tree. He was wearing a black robe of rough cotton. In his palms, a small book with old, ivory pages protected by a worn out crimson cover.

A chilling breeze moved the black robe like a shadow above the green grass. Night was approaching, silently and certainly. The man looked up, through the crown of white, pink and red flowers, and peered at the curved celestial vault that blended a charcoal, milky grey with a faded blumarine: the sunset’s warm pigments did not reach this part of the sky; it could not be tinted by the hues of the passing of time.

The man’s energetic eyes fell on the small pages of the book. Four lines that appeared to form a stanza were written in black ink. However, the many decades that have passed since the book was first published eroded the black into an indigo:

“Святый Боже,

Святый Крепкий,

Святый Бессмертный,

помилуй нас.”

It was a prayer. The man recited it in his mind, for his dead lover – a young man who passed away after five years in a comma.

The crimson book closed. Another breeze made the man look towards the West: the night had turned the bright colours into their darker versions: the burning orange faded into some sort of copper, the red dashes turned to crimson wounds and the bright yellow paled to an ivory glow. Above, the cherry tree moved its blossoms in the soft Spring wind.

As if speaking to someone who was next to him, the man intimately whispered:

‘I remember the first day I visited you on your bed. It was right after the war ended. They told me that you were home but that you were no longer yourself. That was what some people in the village told me, right before saying: “pray so he can die faster”. They didn’t know we loved each other. People thought we were just friends.’ As he said that, the man paused and allowed a smile to develop and then fade.

‘Before entering your room however, I stopped for a second. Your energy struck my body, warming my chest and weakening my knees. I felt your soul. I knew that whatever I was about to encounter, you will be there too. I opened the door and I saw you lying on a white bed, alight with the mid-day sunrays, with your beautiful, green eyes shut and your body stiff but relaxed. A bullet behind your head put you in a comma, one that defied what the doctors believed that it was possible: they gave you a few days to live, and you lived a few years. “More than a few days would be a horrible existence. Like a plant,” they told me while staring at papers and numbers. But they were wrong, all of them: their science was not effective here – you defied them, as you defied so many things before the war swallowed your destiny. For when I touched your hand and whispered your name, a long tear shined on your cheek. And every time I spoke to you, a tear would came out to let me know that in that body of yours, eternal stood your soul: as young and as beautiful as ever.’

Above the cheery tree, the moon was now a translucid globe of pearl and bone with distant grey spots planted on it. The man looked up at the astral body. So distant and yet so close. Above all the worries of mankind and yet, a witness to it all.

Then, with a ritualistic gesture, the man touched the cold bark of the tree: its denivelations and rough surface met the skin covering the human flesh. With this simple move, the man was now connected to the Heavens, and, through his body, the tree linked the Eternal with the Temporary, lighting up the moon with a bright silver glow.

With his hand still on the tree, the man continued:

‘I stood at your bed for all those years, holding your hand and talking to you, so you can hear my voice. Somehow, I felt that my stories bored you. How could they have not? The affairs of men are indeed boring, cyclical, infused with the same pretentious rhythm of meaninglessness. But you listened to me, I know that. At some point however, I felt that you were the one who were having a more difficult time; as if you were there for me and I was not, wasting our time with my descriptions of mundane life, when I should have confessed my love to you. Now, you are gone. The Earth has taken you back…if you can still hear my voice, know that I love you as I loved you the first day our eyes met.’

He took his hand off the bark. The stars above were punctuating the velvet night like a million pins pulsating with flames so hot that they turned blue and white. The air was colder, although no wind was disturbing the tranquillity and silence of that ephemeral moment of beauty and prayer.

‘Many people think that when things get tougher, as they seem closer to the impossible, as the pain tenses the back and undermines the lungs, as our capacity to move and breathe diminishes, that it would be just to leave and seek a simpler, more comfortable path. But love requires of us the complete opposite of what our instincts, emotions and reason seem to indicate: when we feel like there is nothing that can be done, we should seek the impossible even if we know that our search is in vain; when we are afraid to do something, because of the pain that comes with failure or achievement, we should take the challenge head on even if it may mean the loss of our own life; when we are uncomfortable and our mind dictates us to run away, to abandon everything and to start a new, love demands of us that we embrace the shattering condition even if it destroys us.

I have forgiven those who put you in that bed for five years. I have forgiven those who have gone to war and called upon you to serve their interests and desires of power and wealth. I have forgiven those who told me to pray that you shall die fast. But I will never forgive those who sold out love for their mortality.’

As the man stood up to return to the village, a gust of wind blew a handful of cherry flowers. The calm was broken, and with that moment of entropy, normality announced its return. Like a black shadow in the night, the man seemed to float with the wind towards the forest, to traverse it and return home.