It’s February in Ripon.
At the Wilma Street overpass,
A wide black ribbon narrows away
Curving through morning haze
Toward a rose-tinted sky, disappearing
Into a milky sea of almond flowers,
And the fragrance of Bloom pervades.

It’s a magic time when girls smile,
Boys tuck in their shirttails,
And comb their hair.
An Almond Blossom Queen is crowned.
The Sunday sermon is on brotherly love.

Geometric rows of gnarly brown trunks
and scaffold limbs
Are canopied by clouds of blushing blooms.
And in the cool and silent stillness
Rays of sunlight filter through,
Leaving bright quivering splotches
On the carpet of winter grass.

The chill wind whispers,
And petals float gently down
Speckling the ground
Or gathering in snowy patches,
To calico the orchard floor.

And winged frenzied occupants
Of stacked white hives
Sanctify the grand botanic rite
Dragging yellowed, pollen-heavy legs
From bloom to bloom,
Until at dusk in blind fatigue
They crash against their honeyed walls
And stagger in on wobbly legs
Like revelers from a spree.

All too soon, March winds
Bring the magic to an end,
As the trees begin to shed from white to green,
Filling the air with soft spent petals.

And deep inside the hardy waking trees
Embryonic cells
Audition for roles
In next year’s Bloom.

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