Haibun for a home in the sky

For the dverse prompt. We moved from Paris to Laon in Picardie after our fourth child was born. It’s a lovely little town, perched on a rocky outcrop, with a beautiful cathedral. The stone masons honoured the oxen that had drawn the stone up from the plain to build the cathedral by placing their statues in niches of the two main towers.

Photo ©Uoaei1

It went up and up, the road winding about the rock, through woods, vertical trunks clinging to slopes were vines grew once, the new road taking longer because the old one, cobbled more than 800 years ago, was too steep for modern vehicles. Ox carts managed though, even laden with building stone.

Time sits on branches
bowed beneath birds and leaves
never stumbling.

Through the arched gateway of the city walls, towered, watchful, and still climbing to the centre of this world in the sky. Cobbled paths met, converged and merged on the cathedral parvis, and my gaze rose above the statued portals, above the rosaces and their coloured glass, sombre on the wrong side of the light, to the towers, the light, airy towers where stone oxen looked down, as they will forever, in pride at what they had achieved.

Silent as stone
lichen-grey and green as spring


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.

33 thoughts on “Haibun for a home in the sky”

  1. This is so beautiful, Jane. I love those oxen and your lyrical descriptions of them and the cathedral and area.

    I love this haiku–a continuation of “our” morning thoughts. 🙂
    “Time sits on branches
    bowed beneath birds and leaves
    never stumbling.”

    1. I’m glad you like it 🙂
      The oxen are so touching. Imagine the men struggling with life-size stone oxen almost 100′ up in the air with no safety gear, just to say, thank you 🙂

  2. This is beautiful, and also gives we armchair travelers a glimpse of the wider world. I love that they honoured the oxen, many of whom may have lost their lives during that ordeal.

    1. Thanks Sherry. I imagine more men lost their lives than oxen. Human life was cheap, an ox was valuable. And they didn’t have to work 100′ up in the air with no safety equipment. I love that they thanked the animals for their help in this way, life-size statues. There’s even a story that when the oxen were worn out, a miraculous ox appeared to take over 🙂

    1. Thank you, Dwight 🙂 It’s a lovely story, isn’t it? We tend to think that people living in the 12th century were all brutes, but this is the proof that even stonemasons were sensitive men.

    1. Thank you for worrying! No, everything’s fine. I posted this just before I went to bed. We walk the dogs when it gets cool and didn’t get back until late. This morning I took them out early (cool) and have just got back. The idiots with the fireworks have gone back to the hole they crept out of thank goodness. They were a fire hazard!

      1. I shall always be grateful to the virtual friends around the world who think about this insignificant pinprick on the map and check in to find out how it’s going xxx
        I wish luck to the unfortunate people who have that bunch as neighbours for the rest of the yeat!

  3. Luv the appreciation of oxen in the cathedral’s walls and your haibun is stunning. You took us there.

    Thanks for dropping by to read mine


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