Haibun for the next quarter of the year

For the dverse prompt.

The darker half of the year begins with fire. What more magnificent tribute to the dying of the old, the going out in brilliance, new growth cradled beneath the ash? We tell the dead we remember them and call them home to warm themselves and take their place at table. And so they won’t miss the path, we place a lighted candle in the window. Fire driving back the darkness, symbol of enlightenment, the sign that the world might be dark, but we have no fear.
tonight the cranes
flying south call to the light
of the stars

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.

49 thoughts on “Haibun for the next quarter of the year”

  1. Very beautifully gothic. Loved these lines:

    “We tell the dead we remember them and call them home to warm themselves and take their place at table. And so they won’t miss the path, we place a lighted candle in the window.”

    1. Not Gothic, very much older than that. Pre-Christian. It’s a homely, familiar custom to me, takes the fear out of the dead who were loved while they were alive, missed when they’re dead. 🙂

  2. Candles and flame have always taken on such symbolism. I have very narrow window sills, so leaving candles in them may simply result in the curtains going up, but I do love sitting in the living room at dusk by candlelight.

  3. I like this tradition. To be honest, though, in a way it may give children a way to work on their socializing skills, here the day is about commerce. Plain and simple.

    1. They could socialise around a bonfire with adults keeping an eye on things. I’ve never experienced a trick or treat thing though, so I don’t know what it’s like for a child. As an adult, it doesn’t appeal.

  4. This is my kind of celebration, Jane, guiding the dead with a lighted candle in the window and fire driving back the darkness. And you’ve ended with a beautiful crane haiku.

  5. I haven’t been in a bath tub in 50 years, but as a kid, my Mom would set up candles around the tub, and burn incense, and set up a bubble bath. I was unimpressed as a child, but it sounds dreamy now that I only have showers.

  6. This was wonderful Jane! I really enjoyed it. I thought the perspective was both enlightening and intelligent, and certainly addressed the season this with us. Happy Halloween!

    1. It was weird. I was writing the prose bit of the haibun and heard the racket of cranes going overhead. It was too dark to see them but they were up there, navigating by the stars 🙂

    1. If you strip away the commercial sweetie and zombie fest you get the Christian dead souls who have to be honoured in a religious setting angle. Strip that away and you get the much simpler and less threatening idea that we miss dead people and wouldn’t it be nice to have them visit one night of the year?

      1. It’s a time of separation and our religious traditions have got human feeling and religious theories about it all muddled. On the one hand they tell us not to fear death because there’s an afterlife (if we pay our subs) and on the other that we have to be terrified of death (if we’re not up to date with our subs) because that’s the most frightening nightmare they can think of to keep us in line. So we’ve ended up with vampires and zombies…

      2. Heaven and hell are ideas I always found strange. Who would want to spend eternity with God anyway? I would run the other way if given a choice. So maybe zombies aren’t so bad.

      3. He will use any and every method he can employ to steal the election. The Republicans have been suppressing voters and rigging elections for years. Yes, the elections are rigged–by the ones accusing others of doing it.

      4. There’s the fear in many countries of the breakdown of law and order. If ‘the people’ decide they’re just not going to abide by the rules, who can enforce them? Any of them? You’d need a police force and judiciary of millions.

      5. They are doing it here in NYC too. Not in my neighborhood, but then there are no luxury stores here. But people like to gather and chant. And the cops are all Trump supporters, so I’m uneasy. They have no problem pounding on peaceful protests.

      6. That was something I heard a couple of weeks back, that if the military aren’t all behind Trump the police certainly are, and it’s the police he has immediately to hand.

      7. Yes. But if things get too bad the military is not on his side at all, not only the largely minority troops, but the white leadership. You may not agree with armed forces, but here, they still have some integrity. So in the end, although it may be a mess getting there, he will not be able to hold onto power by force. The courts are another story. They have all been corrupted to the Republican side too.

      8. It comes to something though when you have to rely on the integrity of the military to keep the politicians and judges from overturning the democratic process. Hope it doesn’t come to that.

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