Frost coats the cherries, pulling them from swaying branches, clinging like sorrow. Just last spring soft pink petals fluttered like butterflies patterning the ground with poetry and prose. Hard to believe that, in my grandfather’s time, feminine shaped silhouettes of blood and ash marred the ground as the sky turned to blood above the cherished grove. Hard to believe that the deafening blast of atoms clashing could be drowned out by something as simple as a heartbeat, and yet…
Summer rain clung to the windshield like morse code, glittering beneath the Seattle sky, the moon eclipsed by a single darkened street light that bathed the parking lot in thick shadows. Cherry red lips, smeared and bruised. Cherry red nails chipped and broken. Blood the color of cherry syrup, the taste bitter, trickling like semen from a gash overlaying ribs, another running vertical to the jawline. There was no time to scream, no time to heed the warning sirens that cut through the night as deadly birds passed overhead. There was no time to take shelter beneath the pavement nor to run. The explosion lit up the sky and spread death like pollen over the city.
What is black and white and red all over? A joke as old as time, one that ceased being funny when the punch line became personal.
What an ugly word, one that I find as uncomfortable to write, let alone voice, as it is for others to hear. I still struggle with it, evidenced by the scars I’ve been tracing on my wrists with razor blade and pen in the dead of night.
The table is bare of puzzles, the pieces all put back in the box, save those that had tumbled and were lost forever. The last one had been of cherry trees in Hiroshima, taken long after the bomb that had murdered countless numbers of mothers and wives and daughters (why is it always the women who are the casualties when men go to war? Someone, anyone, explain that to me). For some, it was over in a flash, for others it was a slow death as radiation burned from the inside out…
I glow, the tick of the Geiger counter sounding Saint Vitus’s dance, fingers clenching and cramping; Tourette’s in sign language as I claw my way from nightmares over and over, preferring the exhaustion of sleeplessness to succumbing to the rapist who still stalks me when I close my eyes. There, in that quiet place, where gentle breeze stirs the cherry flowers. There, where the summer rain washes way blossoms and blood; there echoes the memory of serenity.
I long to learn to live again. I long to rewrite the story. Over and over and day after day I scrawl, in charcoal, upon the walls of my cell the word whose meaning keeps eluding me.
And, night after night, it slips from my grasp like a delicate petal and is swept away upon the howling winds of holocaust.
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