Haibun for spring thoughts


I couldn’t sleep again last night, too many thoughts and problems to be solved or not, out of my hands. I worried that I had not seen a single hare this early spring around the house, racing, boxing through the grass. So I put on boots and walked the course of stream and ditch, searched for signs that we are not alone.

There were tracks of deer and badger, marsh beaver, hedgehog, squirrel and fox. Holes dug in bank and earth, new homes or just grubbing for food. I walked the nursery; the new trees are thriving, ninety now—we need a thousand more to make a difference. Good signs. Perhaps there will be hares when the sun returns.

grey sky still the day

though nights are full of moon

I wish I could see the magic hares

racing beneath the stars

careless and wild

Keep me this evening in a jar

Keep me this evening in a jar,

This golden softness seeping through the trees,

Keep me this light from such a sleeping sky.

I’ll give you the morning wreathed in mist,

The pearly cold where birdshapes flit and dart,

For silver makes the pair with gold.

Falling through my fingers,

A fountain of pale new light,

A morning suspended from my hands,

If you will keep me this evening in a jar.

Interior monologue on a sleepless night

I lie awake watching the stars. The stars wink and the moon hums. I say it’s the moon but you tell me it’s the boiler of the building next door. I prefer the moon humming though, because I could never sleep through the cranking of some cruddy machine. I would grit my teeth in fury and sleep would fly ever further away among the winking stars. The light of the stars is so far, so old. I’d like to catch a beam of starlight and follow it back to the beginning, back to when the star was. Now, it might not be. Would I be able to come back again if the star stopped being? If it died while I was still sliding back here to this bed to look out at the sky? I looked for you at night. You can see so much further at night by the light of the stars. Did you see me by starlight when I was born? You hear boilers humming, and I wonder did you hear me? You were one year old and three and a half thousand miles away. Imagine that! You say you don’t remember. It was a long time ago and you were very young. But I remember your presence, fat, sticky fingers, comforting me in those first furious seconds. Did you hear me in the playground at school? It was you I was listening to those times when I’d stop in the middle of a game and stare without seeing across the clouds and the sky. So many miles away you were then, but my parents brought me three and a half thousand miles closer. You and I moved the last few miles, drawn by something. Now you’re here, next to me. Funny that. And lucky. What if it had been one of those others? I imagine all those stars and people living their lives that aren’t mine, and I wonder what it must be like to be somewhere else and not be me. When we’re driving I look at the people we pass, the faces in the bus heading for a destination I’ve never heard of, a country bus turning off from the main road, rumbling into the distance. Those faces, all people who live somewhere I have never been. I wonder what it must be like for that bus to be so familiar I don’t even notice it, to get out at the place name on the front of the bus and for it to be home, open a gate, walk through a garden with my washing flapping, and into a house I have never seen. What is it like to be not me? I stare intently at the faces as the bus turns away, down the lane. As if by scrutinizing the features I will find the key to their existence and know. I follow with my eyes, wondering. You wouldn’t wonder so much if you were watching the road, you say. That’s why you don’t like me to drive, you say. I wonder too much. But don’t you? I ask. We can always follow the bus and find out, you say. We could follow the bus and when it stops, watch the first person to get out into their country lane and walk into their country house. We could be there just for that moment. Just to see. It would be familiar then. Crush the leaves of the hedge between our fingers, smell the flowers in the garden. We’d have touched a life and we’d know how it felt. But only one, I say. The bus would move on, still full of unknown people that I couldn’t follow. Is it better to know just a little bit than to know nothing at all? The bus trundles away and you watch me, waiting for my answer that I can’t give. It’s hard to sleep with so much noise, the humming moon, the bus on the country road, and your gentle snoring. I won’t roll you over though, in case I disturb you. I love you too much.