First Steps

Kathy Nguyen sponsored a haibun contest on her Origami Lotus Poetry blog this summer. The rules were challenging. Three haibun were to be written, each on a specified theme, and the resultant haibun were judged as a set. I am pleased to have received “Runner-Up” in this contest. This is the third of my three, and probably the most difficult to write:

(THEME: Kindness/compassion from strangers)

First Steps

When I wake again, the night nurse is gone, and there is an unfamiliar nurse in her place. I immediately register the fact that she is young enough to be my daughter. Her nametag says “Gretchen,” and there are many appliqued roses stuck to it, which is surely a good sign because these are earned by nominations from previous patients. In no time at all, I can see why. Gretchen is nothing, if not enthusiastic. “Let’s get you up and walking,” she says. “Oh no,” I quickly demur. I am dizzy and oozy and everything hurts. All I want to do is sleep. “Lean on me,” she says gently, but in a voice that brooks no resistance. I swing my legs around, grab her arm like a lifeline, and slowly, painstakingly, shuffle the ten steps or so around the room before collapsing back onto the bed. Gretchen beams from ear to ear, and applauds for me as if I had just swum the English Channel, or done the cleverest thing ever. And for a moment, I feel like I have.

early morning
the trellised rose leans
into the sun


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