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Lay for the Day
6th April


A seasonal song for the time of cherry blossom, from the book of Praises.


17. Of the Morello

I.

We planted when we came,
barely waist high,
a gift
that, leaving
in April, we watch
for the last time completely
swathed in flowers, under a sky
like summer, and that now
overspreads us.

The brown honey-bees
go fumbling into blossom
after blossom, whose work we shan’t see:
the cherries neither so bitter nor black
as we expected, but clear-fleshed,
red and yellow, acid.
The blackbirds got them before us.

So entirely white, so beautiful
and plentiful is its flowering this spring
it’s painful almost to look at, unbearably
fragile and temporary. Imploring
every wind that rises to blow

gently on it, letting go, we leave
our wish as a charm upon it, that every
hand that follows on ours may lend itself to tend it.


II.

(July. Still here.
Smearing Vaseline
on bark thatŐs rent and cleft,
over holes that ants frequent,
having poked out first with a stick
portly herds of St Anthony’s pigs
that delve and cluster where the trunk is split.

The thing we most possess is valueless,
shaped to the sunshine ten careful years
up from the shadowed yard. A curse
on property bought and sold
and praises and blessings on all that grows and,
growing, teaches
growth, grows at
our be-
hest and
in the end
we belong to.


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar


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