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Friday, 12 April 2013


File:Minabe-Bairin Minabe 

Prunus mume, "Nankoume", Minabe, Wakayama prefecture: photo by highland 663, 2009

.....With every falling petal,
The plum branches

.....Grow older.


With every falling petal: Buson (1716-1784), translated by Reginald Horace Blyth, in Haiku, vol. II: Spring, 1950

When all the blossoms are out, the plum-tree has a youthful aspect that hides its age, but as each petal falls, more of the black branch becomes visible, and the years are seen in the branches of the tree. At each moment, as each petal falls for ever to the ground, a vast and irrevocable amount of time passes. Each moment is felt as an age. (Blyth commentary)

File:Prunus mume Michishirube1.jpg

Prunus mume, "Michishirube", Osaka: photo by KENPEI, 2007

Thirty years having passed imperceptibly as a moment in the falling of its petals, the old plum tree, now gnarled and bent, the remnants choked by ivy, this year somehow once again manages to put out blossoms to drift gently down like a miracle of spring snow upon the graves of the lost ones whose remains rest beneath its stunted limbs. And still here we are.

File:Minabe-Bairin Minabe 

Prunus mume, "Nankoume", Minabe, Wakayama prefecture: photo by highland 663, 2009


Prunus mume, "Kobai": photo by Fg2, 2006

textured photo by Marie Wintzer, 21 February 2010

 Those two are meant for each other: textured photo by Marie Wintzer, 26 February 2011


De Villo Sloan said...

Tom, I arrive to see this beautiful blog today having come, through the mechanics of chance operations, from reading Blake yesterday in the territory of innocence/experience and the "mind forged manacles" that have only tightened with our removal from anything that could be called a natural state.

These few words and striking images you present bring all those ideas into a diamond-sharp clarity through things that are a form of artistic salvation in themselves: the minimal and the natural.

The compressed narrative of "Older" is on the terrain Robert Creeley covered in what I think of as a transitional book that might have been titled "older" but is instead called "Later."

Marie W said...

.. and the miracle goes on...
Tom, thank you so much for posting those pictures. I am reminded of how much I like plum blossoms. Maybe more than the popular cherry blossom star of all flowers. Maybe for that reason. More humble, discreet, under the radar.
Older/ Later. I had never thought about that. I am one year later. Yes, that sounds much better.
thank you so much for endless poetry.

Nin Andrews said...


Nora said...


vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...


plum flowers
tree older

tree still not
tuckered out?

tree still plumbing

Wooden Boy said...

Beautiful poems. That last image is exquisite, Marie.

Wooden Boy said...

And still here

There's a lot in those three words: bodies and blossom, gnarled plum trees. Two living people too.

Marie W said...

Thank you Wooden Boy! That last picture was taken with a Rolleicord film camera from the 30's-40's. I was lucky to find one in a secondhand shop a few years ago and it works perfectly fine! Just a little bit more settings to play with before taking a shot, a little bit fragile, so I got lazy and I haven't used it in a while because the films always expire before I have time to finish a roll. I should take it out more often. After this great blog, maybe I will!

TC said...

Many thanks all, what a pleasure this has been (and is), for the gnarly old plum tree.

In case anyone wondered whether we have interred our dear departed relatives under that old tree, the answer is no, but we have put to "eternal rest" (??) a number of beloved furry companions there... and there they shall stay, until the Great Excavation.

The plum blossoms flutter down upon them each spring, in silent memorial.

Meanwhile, life, the world now and forever... Buson, R. H. Blyth and Marie Wintzer -- how fortunate we are to have such brilliant friends! Giving it all away!

Quand sera brisé l’infini servage de la femme, quand elle vivra pour elle et par elle, l’homme – jusqu’ici abominable, – lui ayant donné son renvoi, elle sera poète, elle aussi! La femme trouvera de l’inconnu! Ses mondes d’idées diffèreront-ils des nôtres? – Elle trouvera des choses étranges, insondables, repoussantes, délicieuses; nous les prendrons, nous les comprendrons.

Arthur Rimbaud: Lettre à Paul Demeny, Charleville, 15 Mai 1871

It's as though poetry and picture were to bump into each other in the dark wayside chapel at the rear of the cerveau and one said to the other, well, OK, I'll stop the world and melt with you.

And the other said:

I know what you are saying, Chad!

Hazen said...

Funny thing about growing older: we do everything we can to bring it about; we call it ‘living’, when we’re doing it best—and ‘surviving’, when we aren’t. I made an effort to stay healthy; but on the other hand, I was a life-long, active and willing co-conspirator in aging. At times, I paid attention . . . No esta tan mal, la vida, as a friend said. I’d do it again, with a little re-writing.

TC said...

Ditto here, Hazen. But that "little re-writing" would for some of us require a very close attention to detail, at just the right points in the script. In my own case, "natural" ageing has been greatly accelerated over the past year (which now feels like it's been more like ten years, or even twenty) by a single twist of fate; if I'd been a split second quicker or slower to get to the corner outside our house on a certain fateful evening a year ago, I would not have been mown down by a negligent and inattentive driver; if that had not happened, I would perhaps be able to sleep a few hours, or get up a right now and walk around the block, and... what? smell the springtime car exhaust on the freeway feeder, I guess.

"Living" vs "surviving" -- that's a fair discrimination, certainly. But perhaps a further discrimination would separate "surviving fairly well" from "surviving poorly". If I've learned one thing from the past year, it's that nobody loves a cripple; especially not the cripple himself.

Though it must be said the animal friends, agéd and infirm also, observe no such prejudicial discrimination; they remain as demanding as ever, and offer no special dispensation in regard to the state of health of those who provide; and in this democratic generosity of expectation, they do encourage the human caregivers to keep on plugging away at the caregiving tasks; which almost adds up to continuing in the belief (delusion?) that everyone remains among the living, for the present at least.

And when else is there?

Does the twisted old plum tree know, as it lets its last blossoms go?

(Thoughts coincidentally induced by message tonight from Google to the effect that shortly after one is no longer around to keep feeding the beast -- er, the account, which includes this blog -- the beast will be automatically vaporized; a fact that was never a secret in any case; still, dwelling upon it a bit does confirm one's understanding that like everything else, all this may or may not have been fun while it lasted, but in any larger scheme none of it has more than a mayfly's chance of seeing the light again tomorrow -- now, as the shades of evening come down. So ephemeral, so temporary, so here and now and then so gone and so never again. I don't know, but maybe there are multiple senses in which this wisdom applies: "...a little bit fragile, so I got lazy and I haven't used it in a while... I should take it out more often.")

Anonymous said...

simple and beautiful...!!!

Lally said...

That last comment from you Tom expresses so perfectly what I'm sure a lot of us in these "later" stages of life are experiencing but could not have said so well.

TC said...

Thanks, friends.

Michael, I feel you.