This haibun, written for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday challenge (Happy Birthday, by the way!) was inspired by thoughts about my grandmother and what she would have (probably did, a million times) wish for after her children died. It could be read as though I don’t think there’s any point striving for change. It isn’t meant that way.  We should and must do what we can to make things better for everyone, is really what I was trying to get across, and not try to unravel a nice little strand of happiness for just our own little selves.


If I could wish I wouldn’t. Too vast and rolling the world I’d shift with my chopping and changing. Go back sixty years and make it so two children didn’t die? How so? Change the way the poor died then through lack of care and no doctor for those who couldn’t pay? Would I stop the trains on the way to the death camps without changing the hatred that sent them there? Nip the hatred in the bud, go back two thousand years? Kill the Christ who started it with his new fangled machine of blame? Would I stop a massacre here only to create a war elsewhere?

No wish is anodyne, no stone so small it will not start an avalanche that I could never master. Life is what it is—hard for many, easy for some. We can dole out handfuls of softness here and there but in the end the stones roll and gather no moss. Only more stones.

Sitting on this stone, teetering on the cliff edge I watch the changing sky and the greening earth. This is the only reality, the magic undercurrent of existence, and that I would never change.


Melts into summer

in a rush of perfumed blooms,

wild, sun-charged growing.

Cherish each falling petal,

no moment ever returns.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

14 thoughts on “Wishing”

      1. I feel that she has. I think of my Grandma a lot too. She was like a mother to me. ❤

    1. They died within a year of one another, the older at not quite five and the younger on his third birthday. My third was also born on Easter Sunday and my mother had a terrible fear for him until he passed that fateful third birthday.

      1. It made my grandmother terrified of losing her grandchildren, my mother terrified of losing hers, and I watched my son like a hawk when he approached his third birthday. It doesn’t let go.

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