Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sandy Solomon: Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.

Over the branch of a small cherry,

below the white flurry of blossoms,

someone has looped a maroon sash.

It seems somber, a marker maybe.

Today, the cherry trees are out

throwing their white and pink confetti,

tree after tree, on the people passing,

and everyone has a half-smile,

or a camera, or two cameras.

Those not pointing at the children balanced

 on overhanging branches or the man at the easel

painting a blur of trees at the water’s curve

are waiting their turn to compose the same

arched branch, the same blossoms that erupt 

improbably across a gnarled, black trunk.

Beyond the sash, which rises and falls

with each gust, stands a woman,

back to the water, perilously close.

She cups a fragile stem as she smiles

at the man who waits for a moment

when no one passes. The air is inhabited—

her hair full of petals, his shoulders

spattered—and petals rise from the gorund,

eddy at their ankles and fall. Hold it.

Hold it. Jefferson’s dome’s a brilliant 

bone, the blunt-nosed paddleboats

swirling around, sky blue;

the cherry trees are not yet green.

And the sash someone might have found

snaking in the grass by the sidewalk,

the sash someone might have bent

to retrieve, waits for its absent owner, 

a patient, unwavering presence

against which the rest may be measured,

against which the rest seems to move,

though the sash moves too like an arm

raised to gesture: look, look.


Copyright 1996 Sandy Solomon. First published in Pears, Lake, Sun by University of Pittsburgh Press.  Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

Washington, DC at the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial during the spring cherry blossom season.

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