Yesterday I received a gift of two cherry trees from my husband Rolly. We met in the month of May in 1967, when I was only 16; a time of cherry blossoms and promises. We have been married now for 44 years, and so I would have to say that he knows me better than anyone, and his gift was very appropriate. It was not given for any particular occasion, which made it all the sweeter; it was a ” just because” gift. In my growing up years we had an orchard that included several cherry trees, all full size, not the dwarf type you see more often today. The orchard grass was long and lush under the tall trees and it was cooler there in midsummer than anywhere else, so it became one of my favourite spots to be alone to contemplate life’s mysteries. Hidden among the branches, I could have a little time by myself when I needed it. The following poem was written in memory of those days:
My days of climbing cherry trees are over—
My deliberate dropping downward from a limb,
And hanging there suspended by my prayer-calloused knees
To see the world a new inverted way.
The branch is not so smooth now from my summer polishings
And, strangely, not as close now to the ground;
My knees are not so supple now to venture such a thing
As once made every summer day complete.
How lucky was that lady on her flying-high trapeze—
Not quite so close to hungry hornets hovering,
Not quite so close to curious cow that sniffed and moved away,
As frozen there— my long red hair hung down.
I sometimes wake suspended from that ancient cherry tree,
Moving right from dreaming into prayer,
Knees no longer calloused from nightly cold-war pleadings
And the fear that not to kneel was not to pray.
All the world has changed now and I have changed as well—
Some things a whole lot better, some things worse
I only hang from cherry limbs when I am half asleep
But pray from church and chair and bed and bough.