April 20: Japanese Maple

by allisonkujiraoka

Japanese maple

“Rouge leaves” in your native tongue;

a rouge also called “blush” or “scarlet.”

Red even in spring

while all else is green and pink.

Crimson cascade of color

feathery, billowing Japanese maple

this child’s playground for a succession of summers

offering one arm for swinging over bumpy roots

other arms for a seated audience.

Elegantly pointed leaves

beckoning to amateur climbers like us

Trunk opening at the base, tulip-like;

Hearty boughs extending into a welcome

A truly giving tree.

It was only when I came to these shores

and saw your kin

that I realized what a rarity you were

on Broad Street, Pennsylvania.

In our yard new maple roots go down

and a mere twig clothed in velvety ruby leaves

sticks out of the ground.

She stands her ground

She stands up to the wind,

tough as the robust holly and pine to her left.

Long may she thrill us.