Thomas Doty – Storyteller

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The Color of Plums

In mid-August the madrone trees shed their bark. Paper-thin and brittle, in sheets large enough to write on, bark covers the litter of last year's bark and leaves.

After the manner of Han Shan, the poet of Cold Mountain who brushed poems on trees and walls, I pen this poem onto the smooth surface of fallen bark:

between winter and spring
the north wind
scatters plum blossoms

A few more months and leaves will cover this poem. November rain will blur the words, and in January, under snow blown down the mountains by the freezing wind, the poem will soak into the ground. Come spring, with new bark, madrones will grow blossoms and fruit the color of plums.