as soon as these blossoms open they fall

cherry blossoms.jpg
Cherry blossom season in Tokyo, Spring 2018. Photo by me. 

For your Saturday, a fleeting and powerful poem by Izumi Shikibu, who was considered one of the greatest women poets of Japan’s Heian period (794-1185).

“Come quickly –as soon as
these flowers open,
they fall.
This world exists
as a sheen of dew on flowers.”

translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani


Happy National Poetry Month

Dear readers,

Welcome to the 10th(!) year of verse curated by me for National Poetry Month. If you had told me when I was an undergraduate (back when blogging was the hot thing), that I’d still be posting a decade later, I’m not sure I’d believe you. And to be honest, I’ve thought of stopping at multiple points along the way. But every time I do, a friend tells me how much they look forward to April or a stranger tells me how they discovered a poem they’re in love with or someone tells me that she/he realize they actually like poetry…and so I remember why I started this in the first place and am inspired to continue. So: thank you all for living in the layers with me.

Today, I write to you from Japan where I will be traveling for the next two weeks. Rest assured, I actually scheduled the first half of the month’s posts already (and they will all be much shorter than this!).

So let’s begin this month with a bit of inspiration from the beautiful landscape I find myself in, framed by cherry blossoms wherever I turn. Here’s a haiku by the great Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) and a photo from a morning walk I went on this week. May we all find such beauty amidst the complex worlds we inhabit.


In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers.