For Frank Tassone’s haikai challenge.
The year begins in darkness, deepening relentlessly, rising like a black tide higher with every turn of the earth, until the solstice, and the tide is halted, ebbs, time hangs in suspense on the horizon’s rim and the sun that rises is the triumph of day over night, Sol Invictus.
winter cold bites
gnaws bitter bones
beneath the snow
shoots roots uncurl—
I look from the window at the afternoon sky, clear blue brushed with gold in the west, drawn by a flock of red kites, sailing past on their sinister business, and when I turn back to the penumbra of this interior, blink, the seven stars of the Plough shine back at me, punched, glittering points, on my retinas, a gift of this bright sky that conceals the night.
though the day weaves a blue blanket
to hood the earth
stretch from rim to dusky rim.
This day breaks to dull cloud, the promise of rain (perhaps) and the promise (kept) of shooting. Even on this day when we honour those who died so that we (not they) could live this green and pleasant present, when church bells toll in remembrance, even now, dans nos campagnes men are killing for pleasure, while in the city, the streets echo with yesterday’s marching feet, to defend the right to live in the deep, dark past, wrapped in veils of otherness.
On this day of remembrance of the horror of mass murder, senseless killing, the tragedy of wasted lives, I dream that we all walk together, bare-headed, face to the one sun, not to demand the right to live in the dark, but the right to have a future and to use the mighty, explosive potential that lies in each of us, to think, create, shape our own ideas and give them wings.
Flying in her own skies
she soars high but not free
the gentle dove of peace
a target for the hunter
hiding by the hedge.
Today was a day of raptors. The outliers of a flock of red kites sailed low and unimpressed by my upturned face; I saw each feather, the pale wing patches, the bright russet red of pinions and the darker head, crook-beaked, bent, searching the grass about my feet for movement.
Speed and grace
in this silent death-bringer
no baying for blood
Then the hobbies, narrow-winged, sharp and rapid, darted past at head height. In their rolling swallow-flight they turned—slate-grey back, pale-flecked underside and face dark-moustached, gone almost faster than sight.
speed and light feather-tough
then an empty sky
And the ever-present buzzards, with broad wings owl-like, wheeling over the fields where the hunters have passed by. Now I watch a kestrel hovering, saint-ésprit, searching for voles in the long grass, wings and tail fanned, each feather aquiver.
suddenly fills with wings
and I soar
The dverse haibun this week is about indigenous people, which set me wondering about what this term actually means in the European context. The answer is, nothing at all.
Once there were the Celts, and they shared the land with the Romans who were drawn from all the known world. On these fields there were Gascons and to the east the Occitans and the Provençals. To the south were more Celts, Visigoths and Moors. Further north and east there were the Franks, and across the sea, even more Celts, driven west by Angles and Saxons, the Low Germans, then colonised by Norsemen and Goths, and in the farthest west, even there, the Norsemen built their towns among the Celts, and later the Normans, Norse-Frankish-Gallo-Romans with their Latinised ways, invaded and settled. Later still, the Italians came and the Portuguese and the Spaniards, fleeing war and poverty.
Now we point the finger at the African and the Arab, and say we, this mish-mash of tribes and peoples and nations, are the indigenous people, and we were here first. But we are all just people, colonised and coloniser, victor and vanquished, a story centuries old of the great brassage of populations. One day, we may realise no one has right of residence, that the earth belongs not to all, but to no one.
in the field
an oak tree grows
than my grandparents
still setting seed
The dverse prompt this evening is portrait painting, which is a bit of a coincidence as I’ve just posted a rerun of a story I wrote years ago about a neighbour and his dog. Since M. François is on my mind, here is a haibun devoted to his fond memory;
Some people drift in and out of our lives travelling light, keeping only the essentials. He left wife, children long ago, let them get on with it, their noisy demands—his cats were more grateful for the quiet he gave them. He acquired a small dog, abandoned in the park, that recognised generosity, a soft touch when it saw it. Generosity was middle-aged, portly, sitting on a park chair enjoying the sun.
He enjoyed small things, like kittens and kindness, and he drifted out of my life, with his cats and his small dog when his landlord sold the building. We carried on feeding the abandoned fighting cock and the stray cats as he had done until more property developers slapped their hands together and disappeared them all.
spirits live not in the sky
but in the breath of the wind
they linger in laughter
around every street corner
just out of sight
The season is changing. The rich summer ending and memories of bitter winter ruffling feathers and fur. The trees around the house are full of songbirds again and a blackbird has made his HQ above the nail where the bird feeder will hang. A hare appears now each evening, coming closer to the house, squirrels chase beneath the oak trees where deer shelter, and in the evening, the dark is charged with owls’ cat-calls and foxes barking at the new moon.
heat gone from the gold
dance with birds
all finding their place