“Did you know a plane flies over your house every seven minutes?” Dad asks. I didn’t know that. Dad is checking his watch again. “There goes another one,” he says triumphantly. I check my watch. He’s right. It has been exactly seven minutes. Dad likes to measure things. He was a scientist, before he retired. He taught me how to measure my pulse, how many steps to take before letting the kite string out, and how to count the gap between lightning and thunder. In his world, everything is precise and orderly. The hospice nurse says he has six months or less to live. That’s a lot of airplanes.
one by one
Contemporary Haibun, Volume 14
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)
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.
the trellised rose leans
into the sun
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 second of my three, also written “on-site”:
(THEME: Summer or spring)
Back in Time
As I step off the airplane into the glaring sunlight, I feel like I’m stepping into perpetual summer. California always has that effect on me. But it’s an illusion. When the sun sets and the evening fog rolls in like clockwork over the foothills every afternoon, it is as cold and dark here as anywhere I’ve ever been. Somewhere in those dark hills is the double-wide grave marker with my parents’ names on it that I won’t be visiting this time around. But I hardly need to anymore. Their spirits live everywhere around here–in the sunlit live oaks, in the golden hills, in the elusive scents of eucalyptus and wild sage, and in every place that we ever drove through or walked along together.
the sun glinting
off the Golden Gate
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 first of my three, written in June as I sat in the Quad, soaking up the rays, and reflecting on how life comes full circle:
I’ve lived this day so many times in my dreams that it feels unreal to me now. This place is exactly how I remembered it, down to the red-tiled roofs framed against a bluer-than-blue sky. But the sun is warm on my shoulders, a light breeze is blowing my hair back, and I feel intoxicated by the overpowering scent of gardenias. When I close my eyes, I can almost believe that I am 17 again and it is my adventure that is just beginning, not my son’s.
a seagull soars
above the Quad
Ah, summertime. I’m busy writing rengays, haiku, a few haibun, and keeping submissions in the pipeline. I’m pleased to have work appearing in upcoming issues of the following:
- Frogpond 35:2, Spring/Summer 2012 (1 haiku, 1 rengay, and 1 renray),
- contemporary haibun online, July 2012 (3 haibun)
- Prune Juice #9 , July 2012 (3 senryu)
- Daily Haiku (my third batch of haiku for Cycle 13), beginning on July 15
- A Hundred Gourds 1:4, September 2012 (3 haiku)
- The Heron’s Nest, Volume XIV, Number 3, September 2012 (1 haiku)
- LYNX, October 2012 (a rengay sequence, with Kirsten Cliff)
I really enjoy writing haibun, because they give me more of an opportunity to tell a story than single haiku. I find my inspiration for haibun in everyday events, but also in past memories. Here is one in the latter category, that recently won the An (Cottage) Prize in the 2012 Genjuan Haibun Contest. All of the winning haibun can be read on the Icebox blog.
Crime and Punishment
For reasons best known to her, my nursery school teacher has placed me on top of the upright piano because I refused to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” with the rest of the class. Actually, it wasn’t so much that I refused—I just wasn’t singing when Mrs. K. suddenly swept me up and placed me here, with my stocking feet dangling precariously over the edge of the piano, to reflect on my wrongdoings. I know Mom will straighten this all out when she comes to pick me up this afternoon, but right now, all I can think about is, it’s a long way down, if I should jump or fall.
everywhere I look
The results for the Genjuan Haibun Contest are now posted (minus the haibun themselves, which will appear soon).