Jo Burns: ‘Sakura Sakura’

Regular readers of The High Window will no doubt have already explored Andy Houwen’s excellent selection of Japanese poetry in our current full issue. We have  certainly been encouraged by some very positive feedback. Looking ahead to the winter issue, we have chosen to preview  a poem by Northern Irish poet Jo Burns, which is also inspired  by Japan.

In passing, we seem, quite unintentionally,  to have featured predominantly male poets in our first few supplementary posts, so are pleased to redress the balance with Jo’s poem. Some of these posts have, understandably, featured books published by or forthcoming from The High Window Press and thus far we have received more submissions from men than women.However, we are more than happy to redress the balanceas as receive appropriate submissions and are pleased to announce that before too long we will have the opportunity to do so. Watch this space!


You can find further information about Japanese Cherry Blossom and an explanation of the term sakura by clicking here.

Joe Burns: Poem


‘Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms…
Come now. Come now’
Sakura Sakura


The forest floor my penumbra, I lie in remembrance
of what trees know of bloom and clairvoyance,

How green summer understands that to make way
for the wind is life, as Come now, is turned on its head.

Low today, in ruffle, the deer are tilt and whim.
Rustled echoes pull me back to you, the dunes,

August’s glint on car bonnets carpetting the strand.
From the Barmouth, barbecue smoke pouts overhead,

flirting with the convent rocks, looking down
on salt kisses and the shed of abandon. Years on

here I am, thinking back to us, melting in musk,
how the taste of seaweed is not unlike blood.

My fingernails rooted deep in musty moss, I see
that stale, shroud of Autumn close over our need

to be fire licked by heliotrope, to break through crust
to mantle, to flicker skyward in joint breath, to rise as one.

So far from there, I long to lie with you again,
to surrender to the blossom, unaware of season

or significance. Bone spread under bone, I believe
in transcendence and bathe in this occlusion.

The leaves above could be Zen or just middle age––
acceptance, proof, that light can’t last long,

that discovery is fleeting and only happens once.
In shade, the sun can be hanami on old but still, damp loss.

It prickles hot upon my skin but remains as distant
as dunes and your final hesitance, then pull.

Jo Burns was born in Northern Ireland in 1976 and studied biomedical science. She now lives in Germany. Jo’s poetry has been widely published, most recently in Poethead, The Interpreter’s House, Crannog and Southword. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Jo is one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best British and Irish Poets 2017. She recently won the Irish Writers Festival Los Gatos 2017 Shirley McClure Poetry Prize. Her debut pamphlet  will be published in Spring 2018 by Eyewear Publishing. She tweets at @joburnspoems


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