Fire and a Cherry Tree

My face is split in two.
Cracked eyes and dry white lips
Express my damp emotions,
As lonely beads of pain caress my shallow name;
Yet somewhere in my heart
A wondrous fire burns.

A joyful song,
Its hands so lovingly reach out
And touch my meaningless fear.
Its comforting smile so meaningfully gives
The redemption I sorely craved.

In my heart is a fire and a cherry tree.
Am I so far away?
I have lost myself in my God;
You cannot reach me there,
But when you love the Light
As you love me…
You will live.

Notes

My inspiration for this piece was R. D. Laing‘s poem, “Ashes and Lemon Peel”.

To me, Laing’s “ashes and lemon peel” were symbolic of emptiness and futility. Ashes are all that remains when fire has died, and lemon peel is the detritus that is left when even bitterness has departed.

“Ashes and Lemon Peel” was once among my favourite poems, for it spoke so eloquently of my own day-to-day experience. I was comfortably numb; anger and pain were mere echoes on the wind.

But, where Laing’s “ashes and lemon peel” evoked images of futility, my “fine and a cherry tree” is a song of hope and consolation. It is not a hope that made all my problems go away, but rather a promise that life was possible, albeit difficult and painful.

The challenge for those who discover this hope is that it inevitably leads to separation from those who do not experience it. The tension that this causes can work in one of two ways: it can draw the hopeful back into depression, or it can act as a lifeline to the lost.

I wrote Fire and a Cherry Tree shortly after I “saw the light”, and became a follower of Christ.

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