Saturday, February 2, 2013

Good News on the Way

Happy Groundhog’s Day! Some 40 years ago,  a 12-year old student, Julie Pred, and I decided it was our favorite holiday and have sent each other greetings every year since. Truth be told, I rarely follow the whole shadow thing, but it’s just fun to claim a quirky holiday. February also boasts Valentine’s Day (and various ritual classes and songs with the kids at school around love), my wife’s birthday and the birthdays of my two dear colleagues, James and Sofia, a President’s Day long weekend, the riches of Black History month and an occasional leap year. Lots going on in the year’s shortest month!

But for all of my San Francisco life, February is the time when the plum blossoms bloom, the first heralds of Spring even as so many in the more northern climes are still shoveling their driveways and slogging through slush to work. We have a small family ritual of walking up to Edgewood Terrace when the blossoms hit their peak, an entire street planted with plum trees and quite a glorious sight.

There is also a plum outside my music room window, another visible from our home deck and one in our yard. This morning I looked at its bare branches and saw the first little blossom. And lo and behold, it sprouted a poem! I have my own private collection of my poetry and occasionally read some in public, but it had been a long time since I had written one. It was an auspicious surprise and along with going to a concert tonight at the new SF Jazz Center, another sign that February looks promising. And so here’s the poem.

The Plum Tree in February

The twined bare branches against the grey sky,
a twisted prayer pointing upwards.
All is winter in the plum tree,
a mere remembrance of a
former red-leaved splendor.

Hidden in the tangle
is a single pink blossom,
a scout sent out ahead bearing
the good news:

“The bloom will soon be here.
Soon these stark branches
will be aflame in pink blossoms 
singing their Hallelujah to Spring.”

Perhaps this is my work also.
To be the lone pink blossom
announcing the glory to come. 

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