Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom
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The cherry trees shed their electric-pink cherry blossoms this time of year and they collect absolutely everywhere, clogging up the drains and heaped high and dense against every corner and kerbstone, too.

Sometimes, though, there’ll be a peculiar wind’s risen and they’ll be lifted up and blown all about the place only to, once in a very rare turn, eventually come to rest in some completely bewildering pattern. There are vortex like shapes, sometimes, to these cherry blossom arrangements nature gifts the observer.

At dusk, when the light is best, and this is especially when I’m tripping balls, I’ll go out walking in the neighbourhoods…to see what I can see.

I love it this time of year, when the time is on the turn, when the birdsong becomes more cheery, when the raven call and the raven that regales us with that gloomy cry of his, shuts up shop for the season and goes God knows where.

There is optimism. The air is not so frigid, not at all, but we’ve not yet been subjected to the punishing heat of high summer so far, either.

Not that we’ll have long to wait, soon as May arrives. It seems this last 6 years, give or take, July and August, the traditionally sunny and bright and warm months – every day a halcyon day and just gorgeous during those two months – well, that all comes a little earlier now, mid/late May right through June, then it tapers off July, after which there’s nothing but muggy days filled morning, noon and night with rain.

*

One day in July I’d never seen such a deluge inundate the land as it did, and on that particular day of note in these parts, too: The Glorious 12th of July, as the natives called it.

I was living on the edge of the hinterlands then, working for a bankrupt circus and much too settled in on a very bad set up, domestically.

Anyway, on this very, very wet Glorious 12th, I’m stood in a shop doorway, smoking, keeping dry and waiting to start my shift at the circus.

I’m taking quick, rapid wee draws from my feag then holding off a good spell, trying to make it last, stretch it out before I’ve to go clock in at that hell factory I worked for.

A pair of men, decked out in their soggy regalia – garments that are in keeping with a strict observance of the Glorious 12th – shuffle into the shop doorway and huddle up round me, shivering and wet.

They look up at me, the rain pooling in the brims of their bowler hats. One of the men, his gloved hand, starched white – immaculately white the glove this man wore over the hand he was now thrusting out into the pouring rain – this man observed that, “…the rain, this lashin’ rain’s A Taig!”

And I really did scream the place down, laughing: such casual bigotry and such profundity in the one breath – that you could assign a sectarian pejorative to rain, rain that’s as old as night & day…as old as hate.

*

Anyway, the cherry blossoms; where we came in: those electric-pink petals strewn thick across the paths on which I passed.

So I’m going along, stoned, thinking about things. I’m looking up every drive of every house in the neighbourhood I’m passing through – the demographics here where I find myself being firmly middle-to-upper-upper class – and these houses are just so beautiful, too: French Windows, Juliet Balconies, topiary, a vintage sports car with its top down, sitting resplendent and never-driven (only for show) under the shade of a big Sycamore Tree.

But what draws my eye most of all, and just melts my heart as well, is this mass of staggeringly pink cherry blossoms running up the entire length of any driveway I happened to dander past, and right out onto the footpaths upon which I’m walking. It’s like a red carpet at a movie premiere…only pink.

Suddenly I’m struck by its resemblance to confetti – a sort of sad confetti – confetti that’s been scattered by over-enthusiastic guests at a wedding that’s already been cancelled the morning of the Big Day. Sad, useless and unexpectedly superfluous confetti.

And it all draws my mind back to that Glorious 12th, huddled in the doorway with those two men, them stooped and with shoulders slumped, weighed down by their heavy, wet clothes.

When they saw that the rain wasn’t for quitting, one of them said to the other, ‘Let’s just go back out into it, Sammy. We’re already as wet as we’re gonna get. Can’t get no wetter.’

 ‘You’re right, old hand,’ said Sammy. ‘Let’s go.’

And out they went, to get no wetter than they were already.

And as I watched them go, a shift occurred in my outlook: it’s as bad as it’s going to get, can’t get no worse, and you can’t get no lower…so…you either go up, or you go sideward – and if you’ve the means to go up, you go up…and if you’ve not the means to go up, you go sideward.

So I went sideward: swapped out one bad set up for only a very slightly improved one.

I tossed my smoke over a railing and I exited that shop doorway, and I never clocked into the circus that night, either.

I walked through the rain to the outskirts of the place I was living in, out on the edge of the hinterlands, and I hopped on the last bus out of there.

Gone.

Richard Barr

About Richard Barr

Richard Barr lives in Belfast and has had several stories published in the last few years, including in Lancaster University's The Luminary, The Big Issue and The Scum Gentry Alternative Arts & Media. This last year he's been published in Phantasmagoria Magazine, The Honest Ulsterman, Misery Tourism and New Critique.

Richard Barr lives in Belfast and has had several stories published in the last few years, including in Lancaster University's The Luminary, The Big Issue and The Scum Gentry Alternative Arts & Media. This last year he's been published in Phantasmagoria Magazine, The Honest Ulsterman, Misery Tourism and New Critique.

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