The ever-present storm

The dverse haibun theme is fear. Fear is a big thing, and it never goes away. An easy one to write since it’s something I think about every day one way or another.

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What do I fear? I fear what might be. I fear the child’s fever that won’t descend, the late train, the doorbell that hasn’t rung, the telephone that won’t pick up. It’s in the blood, a gift, the anxiety that walks beside me like a second shadow, crouching close to the wall where the rubbish gathers and the pigeons scavenge, picking at every trailing, frayed edge of my nerves.

It’s in the blood. Grandma lost two children and refused to go to their funerals, destroyed the death certificates, and now no one even knows where they are buried. Lost grandad too after only twenty-four years of marriage, had a nervous breakdown and wouldn’t let her youngest leave the house. Followed her grandchildren around as if only her watchful eye stopped the claws of death snatching us away.

Deeper than worry is the visceral fear of loss, and it nags and gnaws at the merest hint of trouble, the barest bones, like a famished dog. If I should find myself adrift, with the phone in my hand that never answers, waiting at the barrier for the passenger that never arrives, and for the doubt to become a certitude, my world would shatter, blow away like the thistledown that fills the bright spring air.

 

Wind blows through the leaves,

spring-brisk and blossom-scented,

heralding the storm.

 

Blossoming

A haibun for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday on the theme of Hard & Soft.

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After weeks of cold, sun-teased buds burst in a fountain of white and pink froth, fluttering and bowing in defiance of the wild winds and steely shafts of rain.

 

Bud-tight blossoming,

at one with the sun, spring-bright

cascades of beauty.

 

Rain drums and pounds petals into earth, iron-hard after weeks of cold, turning the sarcophagus of winter into the softly luxurious, green-sprouting mud of spring.

 

Cold earth cedes, coaxed

by delving, trickling runnels,

shoots a rack of green spears.

This street

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a portrait poem. This is the portrait of a street in the form of a haibun.

image©psyberartist

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This street is one of those where the smell is not of cars or rubbish or urine. Old and clean and a little damp, it hits the senses like a flashback memory. It leaks from beneath the lid of a plat mijoté and slips through the open window. A scent of clean linen, neatly folded in mahogany commodes, hangs sedate and comforting, amid the earthy scents of cats on window ledges, stone-flagged pavements, and pots of scented geraniums.

I walk tangled in the odours of sun on stone and rain in puddles, and the gutter runs yellow with pollen. It brings back the magic of just out of school, skipping and football and marbles, new bread and wax polish. It recalls grandparents and clean aprons, Saturday shopping, evenings sitting outdoors, a childhood of leg-swinging and upside-down hanging.

It smells of home.

 

Sun falls, rain patters,

years turn, the stone remembers

in case we forget.

Birth

For the dverse Haibun Monday, I have worked the haiku I wrote earlier today into a piece of prose, again based on Hugh’s birth on a very snowy Easter night.

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I watch the light die on this spring evening so unlike the night you were born. The wisteria hangs immobile, filling the air with such heady scent, and the birds settle into silence. Moon soars, pale against the blue, in a sky without cloud, and vine leaves open in dark green clusters. Hard to believe that on this night twenty years ago, there was no light. All was shadow, densely clustered, and snow fell thick and heavy. I put on boots to tramp to the maternity hospital arm in arm with your father, ploughing through the white and stopping to let the contractions pass. It was dark and cold and white flakes blurred our vision, and we feared for the next hours.

Wisteria hangs and I bask in the golden scent. Sun has set and the sky is dark. Roses are in bud and the pansies turn their opulent faces to anyone who will look at them. The shadows fall soft and scented now; there is no fear hiding in their depths. You are all that your birth promised, big and strong and fair, and snow has never fallen at Easter since then.

Easter birth pangs grip,

snow falls hard, a soft blanket—

from chagrin springs joy.

 

 

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Light falling through leaves

A haibun for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday prompt. A haiku and a tanka frame a piece of prose.

Photo©Domenico Selvagnin

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From light, dark grows, night,

scattered with starlight, moonlight—

midnight precedes dawn.

This path leads between waking and sleeping, light and darkness, dusk and dawn. We follow its meanders from spring to deep winter, round and round, until the earth stops turning.

All that keeps me to this path between the deep shadows of night and the misty haze of morning, between the leaves that burst fresh and green and those that tumble in a blaze of autumn fire, is the touch of your hand.

Hold tight to my hand, feel how its clasp is both cool as spring water and hot as summer sunshine, twist my fingers in yours like tresses of light falling through new leaves into the rushing stream.

At dusk, we two walk

bathed in sun motes, golden, soft,

petals at our feet.

Spring blazes from stark black boughs,

already its beauty fades.

Hare in the grass

Today is haibun Monday at dVerse. The theme is the best meal you ever had, if you want to join in. I had already written a haibun on Saturday which doesn’t fit the theme at all so I’ll probably sit this one out, but it’s what I was thinking over this weekend so I’ll post it here anyway.

And since I’m not following the prompt, I may as well not follow the rules of a haibun either. I wrote two haiku to follow the prose. Choose whichever you prefer.

Photo©John Fielding

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I want so much to belong to this place, to absorb every petal of every flower, the opening buds, the birds that fill the trees. I listen and I watch, where water rills and winged shapes flit among the tracery of the branches. But listening and watching, the wheels turn, the gears shift and emotion becomes knowledge. It gives names and habits, category and genus, dry as dust not green and sappy or hot as blood.

Do egrets know they are egrets, that their pure white beauty stops the heart? Does my wonder break into their indifference? And what pleasure do I retain from the sight of a leveret, speckled and fragile, in the long grass, when my clumsy tread wrung a heart-rending cry of pain and terror from such a baby?

We trample the long grasses and nodding flowers, break branches, muddy waters, and go our way like a hurricane, leaving devastation in our wake, nests disturbed, young dispersed, a whole generation lost. We live on the edge of wilderness, never a part of it, merely onlookers, treading flat-footed and careless on all that we cannot understand, even the miracle of beauty that is a wild hare.

 

A cry in the grass

speckled struggling then stillness—

may night sooth the pain.

 

Grass, a frail nest, hides

speckled hare in dappled sun—

night has fox’s teeth.

Iode

blossom

Beneath dull skies, scraps of cloud glide, silenced by the falling rain. Gulls, grey as daylight, swing low and skim brown waves. Drizzle spits and blows, and even cherry blossom fades into the monochrome. Where did it go the hope in the spring, the surge, hot and green from every new shoot? Already the wind tears the blossom and drops it in the mud of the last rain.

The same gestures repeated over and over, blossoming, dying, waiting for the winter, the same dread of the envelope on the mat, the monotony of not having. The only change is age. Each day adds a few more grams of weight; sky, clouds hang lower, feet drag. I can make silence in my head and let it crowd with memories, but no dreams flow into tomorrow, leaving bright streamers in their wake for me to follow, and memories fade, their time done.

The salt smell of iodine fills the air, heavy and rich and I can feel the ocean rolling beyond the river’s curve. Clouds break, little by little. Perhaps we will see the sun.

 

Wind in cold branches,

ephemeral blossom falls,

sky full of fragments.

 

Home

Thinking of home, a bit of longing in the form of a haibun, in response to the dverse prompt.

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It’s there when you pass the oak copse, a solid place of golden stone, watching over the water meadow and ancient willow trees. The cows are gone now and nothing grazes the lush grass, but jays shriek at our arrival and the orioles pause in their fluting. The house is cool when the sun is hot, red and orange terracotta floor tiles take the heat and keep it safe for later. Shutters creak open, heavy hinges sigh with elderly pleasure, and lime-washed plaster walls, wooden beams and the quick skitter of lizards over the sill greet the light.

There’s a kitchen with a stone sink and a farmhouse table, and a fireplace I can stand up inside. There’s a bedroom with a fireplace and a bed, and a study with a window looking south and a window looking west, that was a best room for an old lady who believed in best rooms. Above is an attic full of dust motes and owls where we will make rooms for visitors, the only change we will make, for when our wild geese return and our nest fills again.

 

Sun on red tiled roof,

summer clay floor, lizard-streaked,

sky, stone, stars, always.

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A time of growing

This haibun is for the dverse prompt, a forest, natural, restful scene. An ode to peace, I suppose.

Sun through mist

Evening fills the bottom of the meadow with mist and the orange rays of the setting sun. Sky, turquoise, darkens, deepens, and the owls fly, broad-winged where buzzards soared. I sit on the untidy wall where the house ends and the field begins, and the trees bend and sigh in the breeze, and I listen. I listen to the eerie woodwind of the orioles fluting in the golden air, a music from another world.

At the bottom of the meadow, where the stream flows over shallow stones between the roots of willow and poplar, shadows grow. And in the shadows, the quick, bright, high-stepping dance of a red fox. Moon rises and the stars. As many as the leaves in the trees. The music flutters and fades and silence falls. Peace, in this place at least, rises like the moon and the river mist, and all things are in their rightful place.

A time of growing,

music sweeps over green shoots—

silent, the owl hunts.

The Unappeasable Host

Sangbad pointed me in the direction of this prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie to write a haibun inspired by a favourite poem.

This is the poem I have chosen, Yeat’s The Unappeasable Host. It isn’t my favourite, but it’s one I love very much, and it feels almost like sacrilege even using it as inspiration.

THE Danaan children laugh, in cradles of wrought gold,
And clap their hands together, and half close their eyes,
For they will ride the North when the ger-eagle flies,
With heavy whitening wings, and a heart fallen cold:
I kiss my wailing child and press it to my breast,
And hear the narrow graves calling my child and me.
Desolate winds that cry over the wandering sea;
Desolate winds that hover in the flaming West;
Desolate winds that beat the doors of Heaven, and beat
The doors of Hell and blow there many a whimpering ghost;
O heart the winds have shaken, the unappeasable host
Is comelier than candles at Mother Mary’s feet.

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My haibun

The wind that howls and rattles doors and window frames, the hail that strums wild music on the roof, the clouds that boil in yellow anger in the stormy sky, remind the one who watches of the truth. Beneath the concrete and the glitter-glass, the smooth straight roads and shops that promise pleasures never dreamed, is the cold deep earth where all our past is hid. The old ones and the ones before, the ones who left the earth in peace, one with the stones and the broad-winged birds, the celandine creeping on the bank, they whisper in this rising wind, their stories we must not forget.

And though I hold my children tight, when thunder rocks the house, and lightning dazzles with its pure white fire, I will not hide from them the savage beauty of the night, nor stop their ears against the anger of the storm.

 

Hold tight the warm hand,

watch in awe your earth shudder,

birthright, blood and bones.