Cherry Tree Rebellion

Sandra Beasley

To save the cherry trees, O Cissy O Eliza O Clara O Catherine, you buckled your shoes and descended. Fifty of you marched your petition to the President’s house; a flimflam, he called it, cooked up by the newspapers. The next day, a hundred and fifty of you marched to the Tidal Basin. You grabbed the shovels from the Civilian Conservation Corps, refilling holes. You hitched your skirts and chained yourselves to the trunks. The Secretary of Interior sent lunch over, and coffee, cup after cup, coaxing your bladders toward betrayal. O Cissy O Eliza O Clara O Catherine, O Valkyries in muslin, I imagine you staying deep into the night of November 1938. For the first two hours, you talk. In the third hour, you sing. In the fifth hour, your stoles come alive: fresh dew on the eyes of each fox, fur damp, an exhalation that fogs as if breath. But instead, you’d already gone home to your warm beds. Dig fast, Roosevelt told the graveyard crew, and the men did.


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