On the edge

This haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday.

Photo ©Wouter Hagens


Only at this moment

and this and this

can I write of past and future, each moment ticking by, another grain of sand in the glass, adding to the past and taking from the future. I sit or stand or take a step

this way or that, back again

in that infinitely narrow strait, where all futures, all pasts, slide and pass, reach out a hand, catch a grain

and another and another

and by the light of a star already dead, imprint its shape. Memory stored, I keep it polished and bright, as long as I can see its trajectory downward, behind, stroke the memory of its fiery tail as it falls. This sun, with rays so much younger than the fiery mass, flickers in the facets before they are lost, poured through the straits into the pile of the past. So many grains, falling in a brilliant cascade. How many more are left to come?


Each moment glitters,

dark or light, by sun or moon,

a glimpse of heaven.

I taste my childhood, the scent,

floral, pungent of privet.

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.

24 thoughts on “On the edge”

      1. Yes, and it seems such a real shame that it is that way, although I guess only for good memories – bad ones, even the fragments can hurt.

      2. I wrote my senior honors thesis in college on the works of Joseph Conrad and this is the topic of my paper (you can actually read it, I made it into a book a couple of years ago; the writing of this work was a turning point in my life and I wanted to commemorate it and also make sure I didn’t lose the darn one copy of it I have…) anyway, that is what I focused on how the characters face very difficult things and how they do or don’t manage to process and live with them. The topic is interesting to me still today.

      3. I admire you tackling Conrad. Not the easiest of authors. That notion of good and evil and how we choose is what makes his writing so dark, seems to me.

      4. The paper took a year (100+ pages) and reading all his books. I felt a kinship with his outlook; there is hope at the end of things, but it is up to the individual.

  1. OMG! This – This… I love it. Your style, your words, your presentation! The prompt for your words all produced by the scent of privet. Wow. I am deeply moved by this piece. ❤

    1. Thank you, Colleen! When I was a child everyone had hedges round their gardens, and most of them were privet. The extremely house-proud kept them so neatly trimmed they never had time to flower. Straggly hedges though did flower and I remember hating the perfume. To a child, it was so strong!

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