A haibun for the dverse prompt.


At the bottom of the meadow runs the stream, backed by poplars, giants standing side by side, defying the wind. On our side of the stream, long ago some farmer planted willows to counter the erosive action of the water and keep the stream in its bed. Eight are left of the long alley of silver-leafed guardians. Bowed with age and the weight of their branches the others have gradually sunk into the moist earth with the purple clandestine that grows around their trunks. Bowed and split, they lay, tangled with wild vines, and cow parsley high as my shoulders, until we chopped them down, the trees that would never raise their heads again, and trimmed the dead weight from those that would. Eight willows sprout anew, silver wands reaching skyward. The clandestine is hidden now, sunk back among the tree roots, waiting for spring. In its bed, beneath bramble-hung banks, Le Caillou babbles, chattering to the silent deer and the nimble fox.


Roots delve deep, stream runs,

delves deep banks among tree roots,

water-tangled feet.


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.

44 thoughts on “Willows”

  1. What a beautiful haibun. I really like the description of the willows and the poplars. And the stream, and the clandestine…The haiku is almost circular which adds to its charm.

      1. Circular is good. I always plan my errands on a circular route, a road trip, etc. I guess it’s the engineer in me.

    1. Clandestine is such a strange plant. When I first saw it I thought it was crocuses. It lives on the roots of willow that in turn lives on the roots of the stream. There’s a nice symmetry to it.

  2. A gorgeous scene, Jane, painted in your beautiful words. Poplars make me think of the french countryside, which is why I’m glad we have some that line the road up to our village church. I also love willows – our two are both of the curly variety, but I love those silver willows too. And ‘water-tangled feet’.

  3. What a lovely set of images. The new willows sprouting from the old roots. Willows must be practically impossible to kill. They are desperate to live, aren’t they? I’ve been involved in a couple of willow structures in my time, and I’m always amazed at how eagerly they grow.

  4. I went exploring through your blog and found the bit on clandestine. Yeah, that’s creepy! I like the idea of new willows springing from the old. A wonderfully pastoral haibun!

    1. The poor things need looking after or they get too heavy and fall over. Nobody had looked after these for years and most of them were too far gone to be saved. The clandestine is something I’d never seen before. It’s certainly funny stuff.

      1. If you leave them alone, they can’t cope with the weight of their branches and topple over. They must have shallow roots, I suppose. They look like tired old people, gnarly and bent.

  5. Lovely thoughts on nature. Trimming up the willows and cutting away the old stumps cause new life to grow again. I had never heard of purple clandestine. Google said it was parasitic; it’s looks so beautiful. The haiku weaved it’s way through the story as well

    1. Thanks Walter. Clandestine is a parasite, growing from the roots of the riverbank trees. It only appears for a short period to flower, then it sinks back into the earth again. Really strange stuff, but beautiful.

    1. Thank you! I had never heard of clandestine either. It’s a very strange plant and is totally invisible now until next March when it pops up again from the roots of the willow. No leaves, just big purple flowers at ground level. Weird stuff.

    1. Thank you, Sumana 🙂 In the days before mechanisation of agriculture and mass pesticides, the small farmers used a lot of common sense in the way they farmed. They’re a dying breed unfortunately.

  6. It reminds me gardening a forest. I’ve heard that willows are good around streams, or streams were good for them. That they sprout after being cut is a kind of rejuvenation.

  7. Oh my goodness…..this just enthralled me! Truly, the description is so detailed with beautiful words…I felt myself here in this special place. And the last line of the haiku is perfection! Just a wonderful read this morning on a grey and rainy day in Boston! Thank you!

    1. I’m glad you like it Lillian. We’re stuck in town and having trouble getting transport organised for a trip. Paradise is on hold for another week and the waiting is getting to me.

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