The Cherry Trees that Grow in Hell

By Bastian Florian Rohr
February 15, 2023

The other day I failed the art of ikebana miserably.

Before my flower arrangement lesson, I battled the icy winter air and got my skeleton of a body to Komeda, a coffee shop I worship more than Christian bigots do Jesus. I took advantage of my breakfast to collect my thoughts and mentally prepare for the cherry branches to be arranged in the kakubana shape my mistress had ready for me. I knew too well how much of a challenge these brittle bitches would present.

Yet, for reasons I cannot explain, they kept breaking under my hands. Even though I know the theory and the technique kakubana requires backward, it simply refused to serve me on that very chilly morning. Witnessing this uncanny failure, my mistress was as harsh as she needed to be. Despite her best efforts, I still managed to find an unhealthy sort of delight in my inability to perform.

By the middle of the lesson, I was taken over by a languid brain fever and convinced to be unworthy of the expensive dark silk my kimono was made of. Because even if learning the petals never stops, I am, after all, supposed to be a master at them. And how could a master ever fail, I kept asking myself.

My hands then started to tremble, my eyes filled with cold tears… and the sakura kept breaking repeatedly. Yet, my mistress’ words were more potent than my darkness and finally quelled my eternal thirst for self-depreciation. And, with her help, I could eventually bend the few branches that had escaped my hands’ clumsiness into the traditional triangle shape of the kakubana.

At the end of the lesson, I hated my creation even more fiercely. Not because it was imperfect but because it existed. Somewhere in my twisted mind, I would probably have preferred not to be able to achieve the required form at all.

When my mistress finally served me the cup of matcha we always share after lessons, she smiled at me like a wise spider. She then whispered a phrase that pierced my heart with the same luminous intensity that the cold winter sun rays reflected toward my angry pupils from the golden belt of her kimono.

“Cherry branches are as complex to manipulate as women. Hell is full of them.”

As her words imprinted on my eardrums, I finally dared to look at the poor broken cherry branches lying next to my flower scissors. A single tear flowed down my cheek when I realized I had just made Satan’s playground a little more crowded.

I will never forget that day’s lesson: the uglier the failure you experience, the higher its aesthetics need to become…, and the hotter your infernos will burn.