The Cherry Blossoms


photo by jparadisi 2011

I scoop the ovoid pit out of the pallid flesh of an aging avocado, and add it to my salad.  It does nothing to alleviate either my appetite or restiveness. Outside, the rain sluices fragile cherry blossoms from their branches into the gutters. I wonder why I continue eating salads in a vain attempt to lose my winter weight, as if I will wear anything other than pilled turtleneck sweaters this soggy spring.

I complain about the unseasonal rain as if I know anything about too much water. I know nothing about destruction and suffering, and of the thousands of lives lost in the deluge of a tsunami. I complain too much about the rain.

Moving to the living room, I sit on the sofa with a forkful of salad in my mouth, and turn on the evening news. On the TV a woman is telling her story in Japanese through an interpreter to a journalist. She has a white scarf wrapped around her wrinkled face, which reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe. She is a nurse, like me. The clothes she wears are borrowed. They are all she has. Her home and belongings were washed away.

She was at the hospital when the Tsunami hit. She didn’t leave her patients until it was almost too late: The water is coming. She carries those she can to the hospital roof. One patient, an old woman, cannot be carried to the roof. She begs to not be left to drown. This nurse, who reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe, looked into the woman’s terror filled eyes and said, “I am sorry grandmother. I cannot save you.” She weeps as she tells this story to the reporter on the evening news.

Since the disaster, this nurse, who reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe, spends her days caring for those who were saved. Homeless, she lives at the hospital, and her days roll by in an unending shift. There is so much need, and nowhere to go.

Later, I fall asleep listening to the cadence of the rain on the roof, and my husband’s breathing. I wake up in the dark. I have been dreaming of empty orbits in the sun-bleached skulls of steers, and I cannot stop weeping.