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Zuihitsu

I’m drinking a Nuo Mi Xiang Pu-erh and though I’m delighted that it smells like glutinous rice, it makes me hungry. My fridge is empty. I could go grocery shopping, or I can look at trees. 

Near West Portal Station: Silver Tree, endemic to a small area in Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Soft, silky, shimmering silver leaves. In middle school, this tree reminded me of Christmas. I thought it matched the house it stood in front of. I thought I’d live in a house like that someday.

Near the Popeyes on Geneva: Strawberry Tree, a hybrid of uncertain origin. The 29-Sunset, which took me to school, passes by this tree. I’d stare at its red berries from the window seat and wish I were home already. My commute was forty-five minutes one way on a good day.

Near General Hospital, where I was born (known today as Zuckerberg Hospital): Chinese Flame Tree, native to southern China. Yellow, sometimes pink flowers that look like paper lanterns.

“San Franciscans enjoy unusual stuff. People choose to be unusual here. We love diversity in human beings and diversity in our trees.” – Do You Know Your Neighborhood Trees? (The Bold Italic)

Near me now: Grecian Laurel Tree, compact and multi stemmed. A two-in-one, pluck the bay leaves for cookery. Dainty yellow flowers that bees love to stick their heads in, susceptible to pests.

What is the difference between a bride and a tree? Daphne runs from Apollo. Again. Apollo insists that he’s just trying to love her. Again. The best Daphne’s dad can do is turn her into a tree. Again. I’m thinking about how she avoids, and he persists—how as a girl, I learned to accept that these things happen. 

I watch a YouTube video titled “Sensitive Plant. Cool.” The sensitive plant is also known as the shame plant. When someone runs their fingers over its leaflets, it folds inward, protecting itself.

“New cherry blossom trees have been planted in front of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California following an incident in January in which two trees were vandalized and discovered with their branches entirely hacked off.” – San Francisco Chronicle, January 2021

Like you, I was upset when they destroyed the cherry blossom trees. I couldn’t leave my apartment during this time. If I did go outside, I’d clutch the pepper spray that I bought online—despite not knowing how to use it.

The article says the cherry blossoms will bloom again. I open another browser tab. Yi Sang wrote, “Tomorrow, I will try to enjoy looking at flowers all day.” Tomorrow.


Alison Zheng (she/her) is from San Francisco, CA. She is a MFA Candidate and Lawrence Ferlinghetti Fellow at University of San Francisco.