Short Answer


By Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

Well, I hear they came from the Himalayas first,
born there from the womb of quiet and grace,
but more recently from the vacant mountains
where the messengers worshipped
before transplanting them to other supplicants,
bringing with them branches that carried gods within,
then the emperors marshaled eighth century banquets
beneath them, soon the samurais, 
then all the country hurried
to huddle below its canopy
as if the serenade would expire, 
so the flock quickly unrolled blankets
the way their ancestors did, locked their bodies
into the earth as florets sang above them
and recited the same lyrics, 
danced to the blushing buds’ hymn,
even through the night as paper lamps
reignited each ballet-slipper bubble,
magenta-cloud cluster, quartz-colored marble;
and then planted them everywhere,
not just shrines and temples
and gardens and castles, 
but into the circle of saucers, the exterior
of pilot vessels, into paintbrush strokes,
ice cream flavors, and reincarnated warriors, 
to stretch the soul of it into every corner
of every season; and did you know, not too far
from the ones here peaking from behind brick archways,
is the park where two thousand of them
were delivered a hundred years ago,
thriving beside a stone tōrō engraved
to illuminate even further the small forest
by the Hudson river; and now their brief bloom
is our city’s rite of spring, so here we are
centuries later, and its glittering luster, flamingo feather
heaven glow competes with the sun in the sky,
and their fleeting light reflects the seraphic shine
of your inquisitive eyes, and there is no way
to make this visit last longer, 
to rush the rebirth and renewal;
it took all this time for the cherry blossom
to reach the courtyards of New York
from the palisades of Asia; 
so these fragile petals, hope symbols, continue
to make a puddle of pink at your feet,
and that is the short answer to your
what kind of trees are these


Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad’s poetry has appeared in The Missing SlatePassages NorthHEArt OnlineChiron Review, and is forthcoming in Natural BridgePainted Bride Quarterly, and The Pinch. She is a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. She currently lives in New York and practices matrimonial law.