Raymond, you wandered in one day off the street, jumped through an open window, curled into the arms of the chair and went to sleep. From that moment, you ordered the lives of seven people, turning the house into a maze of cat-proof doors, furniture armoured against claws or pushed against the walls, out of the way of your wild rampages. You reduced children’s toys to shreds, raided the fridge, stole a whole chicken once.
Then, exactly one year to the day you sauntered in and took possession, you took your stripy, confident cat-self to pastures new. C’était un vagabond, said the neighbour. C’était un sacré bagarreur, said the carpenter, who would watch, from his workshop, your one-cat defence of the vacant lot against all comers. You were vagabond and street-fighter, our beautiful stripy cat, and we still miss you.
City sky
grey as pigeons and empty
as your chair.

Haibun for a golden day

We walked the cart track this afternoon, beneath the sun, beneath a hedge, between the fields baking in the heat, a path that winds around a hill, the valley water-filled. Sloes were blue and bitter, the deepest ornière full of frogs,

if the sun sang
it would be cricket dry
rasp of insect legs

and the smooth clay of tractor tracks between the rows of corn held countless prints of fox, deer, badger and boar. Corn husks rustled dry in the wind, the hot breath of silence

swallow-winged air
dry as old bones rutted
like this earth

Another birthday

Photo taken at Christmas

Today is Finbar’s official birthday. A guesstimate by the vet when he was brought to the shelter, since nobody knows when he was born. For lunch he had his usual ‘soup’ of rice, lentils, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes with a portion of minced beef. Today, his soup had an added chicken stock cube, and as a birthday treat his meal was garnished with a boiled egg and a slice of Cantal cheese. You’re not fourteen every day.

Time flows in concentric circles or parallel tracks running at different speeds, the stars we see, the stars we don’t, light issuing from present darkness. For dogs, time races in the fast lane.

gloomy day
of false summer—leaves hang
waiting for the rain

Haibun for Lúnasa

For dverse.

First day of August is Lugh’s day, harvest day, the day of festivities and games in honour of Lugh’s foster mother, of Puck fairs, wild goats and bilberries. Balanced between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox it marks the high point of summer, the gathering of the crops, the slide into cooler weather, when plenty gives hope of surviving the winter.

The wheat was harvested here weeks ago and the hay. Crops ripen and the next is sown with little help from nature, and Lugh turns away from those who think they know better. I picked the first blackberries, a gift, but gifts are meagre in these days of plenty, and who listens to the growling of the sky?

summer scarce begun
ill-used by storm winds
the first leaves fall

Haibun for July rain

I look out at the July rain, listen to the thunder roll, the wind in the chimney, mop the water off the floor and try to find the voice of summer. In the livid meadow, feral cat shelters beneath a hay bale, watching the kestrel stoop and take the vole from the trickling stalks. There is no end, no stopping of the wheel, even though we have no use for these muddy times.
sun sinks in storm cloud
and spotting rain—somewhere
it rises golden

Haibun for midsummer storms

For the dverse prompt

Another night and day of storm and picking up the battered tomato plants. Another day of light that changes with lightning rapidity, booming with the drum roll of thunder. No fire this longest day and shortest night, the sky too charged. Who would tempt the force that draws up wind and tempest with our puny defiance?
an ocean of clouds
sails the sky all the shades
of the storm
and we watch and wait for the deluge, the rattle of rain and the detonation of thunder echoing in the attic, sending the cobwebs flying while
cats cower
no mice-dancing matters when
the sky is unchained
In the dog chamber, a sleeping hound, deaf to the bombardment, sleeps. Night is night is night, a time to let the bones rest and dream dreams of those young days of the wild hunt
the balm for old age
a moon sighs.

Haibun for this moment

For the dverse prompt.

There is no present moment. It’s gone like a raindrop falling, no time to inspect it, turn it about to see the seams. The light dips, and the last blackbird is silent. Did I notice the last notes? Or are they confused with the nightingales’ songs that never end?
Light, ever changing fades to grey, the moon hidden behind thick cloud. Each moment thickens the colour until there are no moments of grey left on the palette, and shades of black begin.
Birdsong beats the rhythm of passing moments, flowing into the past like stream water flowing into the future river, while I listen helplessly to the bird notes of an unrepeatable song.

night flowers with stars
flower with light showering
night-petalled stars

Haibun for a visitor

In the evening, the fox comes to wait for the food I put out, sits in the grass by the path to be there before the badger ambles up later. The badger track is clear, following the human track around the edge of the meadow and up the path. Fox cuts across country, trots up close to the house, waits, big ears alert, eyes shining, unafraid. There are few things lift the heart higher than gaining the trust of a wild creature.
Night air sways
wind breath singing owl songs
so many eyes.