(cherry blossom)

cherry blossom / the expectant mother / counts the petals.

Honorable Mention, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational 2011


I feel a little guilty receiving an honor for a haiku about cherry blossoms, considering I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever actually seen a cherry blossom in real life.

Lots of pictures of cherry blossoms, of course. They certainly look pretty. But not, as far as I can see anyway, any prettier than apple blossoms, which my life has been full of, entwined with. We had a tiny apple orchard in the backyard of my childhood home, which I mooned around every spring, and now I live a couple of miles from a famous arboretum full of dozens of apple trees that bloom spectacularly every May and attract hordes of visitors, including, always, me. So when I write haiku about cherry blossoms, frankly, I’m usually thinking “apple blossoms.” Seeing apple blossoms, smelling apple blossoms. Wishing it were time for apple blossoms again.

Yeah. I don’t think I’ll write any more haiku about cherry blossoms. It’s not like I’m one of those sticklers who insists that every haiku must be a faithful record of some event the poet has actually experienced. But I don’t usually write haiku about things that I have absolutely no experience of and, really, absolutely no feeling for. And honestly, this one smells fake to me, a plasticky gimmicky haiku I stuck together for contest-entrance purposes out of convenient haiku parts I happened to have to hand. Adorable little baby fingers. Imaginary, unimaginable, legendary blossoms. Some kind of blissful, sentimental Madonna bearing no resemblance to the grouchy, sick pregnant woman that I actually was.

Of course, the great thing about haiku is that what seems meaningless and pointless to one person can seem entirely different to another person with another set of life experiences and another point of view. Maybe you’re one of those people and this haiku speaks to you. I’m very happy to have shared it with you, if that’s the case.

But I still think I’ll be avoiding writing cherry-blossom haiku in the future. Watch this space for apple blossoms next spring.



18 thoughts on “(cherry blossom)

  1. Hehe…you have company here. I also have never seen a cherry blossom in real life, or even an apple blossom, for that matter. Still I think it’s a beautiful haiku, Melissa, and I like the image a lot!

    • Yes, I’m sure there are lots of place I could go to see cherry blossoms… not even as far away as DC. But what fun would it be not to be able to claim to be a haiku poet who’d never seen a cherry blossom?

  2. Much deserved, Melissa…this haiku that expands in thought, meaning and universe!!! Each line that comes from you now is a gem. Looking forward to the apple blossoms!

  3. First: Congratulations, Melissa. Second: I thought for a while I read my own thoughts reading about your “feeling fake” and abstaining from writing about something you don’t have a feel for or experience with. Something like this happens to me too when I write submissions to publications that may be far from my own writing or sticks to an ideal I really don’t share … maybe that’s why I don’t submit so much these days … I feel like an imposter trying to “fit in” in a slightly dishonest way. Ayayay – the hardships of being a writer … but I salute your decision.

    • Thanks for the support, Johannes. Yeah… I query myself every so often about whether I’m writing what I really should be/want to be writing or just what I think other people want me to write. Hard to stay honest… but I think I’m starting to figure it out…

  4. Your image caps a charming haiku & congratulations on the HM! An accomplishment of itself. I too entered a haiku, but alas found itself on the cutting room floor. With that said, I am already looking forward to throwing another verse into the spring winds of Vancouver. Best wishes!

  5. It was refreshing to hear your comments about the haiku, Melissa. They are very valid. I look at your haiku as a “plant the flag” haiku. You plant the flag with a traditional image – cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, first snow, moss on the log, frogs croak, summer breeze, or something familiar. After you plant the flag, you bet the farm on the next image. It needs to pop or reset the natural world with a new slant on life. I think you did that. Counting petals and laboriously counting thru birth options, outcomes, endless possibilities, numerous expectations — it can go on and on. I liked this one.


    • Thanks, Terry, although if one of the things you are congratulating me for is my pregnancy, perhaps I should mention that I stopped being pregnant over 17 years ago. 🙂 (The results were excellent, though!)

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