by Marie Mutsuki Mockett
I missed the cherry blossoms in Japan again. My cell phone reminded me. It woke me up with a photo and a date. Eight years ago I went to Nakameguro in Tokyo and sat alone at a corner table in an Italian restaurant and took a picture of the view outside. The cherry blossoms that lined the canal were throbbing, lit up by discreetly hung white lanterns. It was like eating dinner beside a dark aquarium filled with drifting pink jellyfish. I had only an hour at the table because it had been reserved by a couple who had planned ahead. I was a walk-in. I had to drink my wine and eat my pizza quickly.
This year I used my cell phone to look at the NakaMeguro blossoms on Instagram. It was and was not the same thing to see the blossoms through the iPhone screen, which is and is not like a window. I could have gone to see real blossoms in San Francisco, but I didn’t. Two of the trees in Japantown were cut down before they had a chance to bloom. Some people are calling this a hate crime.
When I went to see the cherry blossoms eight years ago in Tokyo, some people were wearing masks because people wear masks when they are sick or the pollen count is too high.
When I go see the blossoms again in Tokyo, there will still be people wearing masks, and I imagine no one will be hitting anyone else for being Asian because I will be in Asia. No one will hit a tree, because the trees are like people. I will have enough time to watch the sky go from blue to black, and the waiter will refill my glass. I will watch the blossoms swim slowly across the window then down, up, and across.
This time, I will plan ahead.
Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s memoir, Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye from W. W. Norton, was a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award, Indies Choice Best Book for Nonfiction and the Northern California Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her latest book, American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland, published by Graywolf, follows her journey through seven red agricultural states in the company of evangelical Christian harvesters, and was a finalist for the Lukas Prize, awarded by Columbia and Harvard University’s Schools of Journalism.
SLAG GLASS CITY · Volume 7 · June 2021
Header image by Leland Rechis.