Emily Vest

What Is the Epitome of Beauty?

A cherry blossom tree, he said from his office chair. Or rather, a falling petal of a cherry blossom tree. That’s what the Japanese believe. The more temporary a beautiful thing is, the more beautiful the thing is.

Christianity is a coward’s religion. On pajamaed knees, on bed sides, you ask for someone else to buy your freedom. You run from justice, from rightful blame, instead begging for god-blood to hide the sins you committed. The student from Okinawa raised her chin. “I would take responsibility for my actions, good and bad,” she said. “I would stand before God and accept whatever judgment He gave.”

What of heaven? he asked from his chair. “I don’t want to go to the Christian’s heaven,” she said matter-of-factly. Why not? he asked. “Because, why would I want something as everlasting as dirt?”

I want to exist in sakura-heaven where happiness isn’t horizonless. Amongst samsara-bound deva, celestials still subject to somei yoshino statues, I will exhaust my karma currency in the Realm of Gods until my time to be judged by Enma-ou and the ten kings once again. 

Lady Fortune spins her wheel, and the wheel spins forever.

He reclines in his chair and glances at the window. Cherry blossom petals—like snow, like Ohka, like bombs—were made to fall. And while the sakura’s beauty lasts only a week, the everlasting dirt births it. What is the epitome of beauty? Mono no aware. The ephemerality of my life.

Emily Vest is a junior English major at Cedarville University currently studying creative writing and publishing. She is a new writer and aims to work with a publishing house after graduation as a developmental editor and continue her writing projects on the side. Her poetry, including “Castle Crumbling” and “Ginori, Dulevo, and Aynsley,” appears in The Cedarville Review. Her family is currently stationed on the military base Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

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