Nobody Knew

I wrote this little poem last year as spring announced itself in the Northwest. One of the joys of poetry is looking back and seeing how your intuition captured something that you wouldn’t have been able to articulate directly.

One thing this poem captured is the dance between two parts of life.

There’s the self-protective part, whose job it is to make sure what’s already alive doesn’t die. This part knows how to retreat. How to hide. How to fight off danger and put up armor between you and the world.

And then there’s the part it’s protecting—the soft, whole-hearted part of you that knows how to join the world’s ongoing renewal of aliveness. It knows how to praise. How to make and recognize beauty. How to open and risk itself in the world.

And—this is what struck me today—spring doesn’t happen because the protective part gives the all-clear. It never does that. It’s always in protective mode. Spring happens when the warmth of aliveness overcomes the fear of destruction. It’s a calculated risk. An act of faith.

As the cherry trees bloom again this year, they’re reminding me that both parts are good. Both are necessary. That, like the cherry trees, we can’t live perpetually in one or the other. We too have to dance with the seasons.

Nobody Knew

Nobody knew
the cherry trees
would bloom today.
How quietly

they must have
whispered together,
huddled in the
deepest ends

of their roots
as winter’s death crept
down their branches.
But slowly—

as slowly as the Earth
tilts her head
back toward the Sun
—a chorus grew,

some ancient hymn
of faith, and the life
they’d been protecting
took heart and began

to rise into
scarred trunks
and broken branches
until all at once,

all over this grey
city, a million
newborn flowers
proclaimed the Spring.


  1. Such a beautiful, vivid description that captures all the senses! Love this, and miss you, brother!

Leave a Reply