HomeSouthern VoiceCherry Trees

Cherry Trees

by Monica Burchfield

When you never came
to collect me, I took a cab
to the art museum downtown.
Foolish heart-shiver woman,
I had worn my laced boots
and wet lips for you.

And when the elderly docent
with a microphone clipped at his ear
asked how my day had been, I wept
and said that the paintings
were lovely, in particular
the early Japanese prints
of the women bathing,
the women applying rouge—
waiting behind a curtain
with long fingers pressed
to the notch between their breasts.

Particularly, I cried for
the prints of the paired
carp and goldfish and wasps,
and the two inky swallows
hovering over a branch rimmed
with crimson flowers and snow.

I walked the vaulted rooms
of that museum all afternoon,
hoping you would call
to say you had only been lost
in traffic, rear-ended by a delivery truck.
These women around me
with fleshy thighs who meet
their lovers’ eyes in mirrors.
How do they prepare
for sleeping alone?

But, I would try again—
wait under that cherry tree,
its branches raked open
like the inside of a lung.
I would wait for you
by the midnight pond,
where the moon’s reflection
lay wedged on the floor
like a forgotten gold ring.

Monica Burchfield, a native of northern Florida and of Cuban descent, has a M.A. in poetry from Georgia State University. Her poems have been published in journals such as Kudzu Review, Mêlée, Rhino, Rattle, New South, Terra Incognita, Dappled Things and The Healing Muse. She has a chapbook published by La Vita Poetica Press (2010) called Lapis Lazuli. She currently teaches creative writing at Georgia Highlands College in Marietta. Read her poem Quitting Ohio, published in Deep South in January, here

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