Independence Day

Girls didn’t leave home until the wedding in those days. Still, she was bound for the city, watching the darkness gather outside the window, her body relaxing as the train sped along, the droning of the wheels lulling her, she grasps the last bit of light ringing the horizon and plucks a single image from the invisible flow of memories streaming across her awareness.

nightfall
the way a mother’s voice
might soften

Contemporary Haibun Online

April 1, 2022

Rave On

It is a bitter cold day in February and I foolishly leave the house without gloves. By the time I realize it, I have reached the corner where my friends are hanging out, and I have no desire to return home so I shove my hands in my pockets and forget about them.

purple clouds 
a groundhog slips
on the ice

The sky darkens and I notice the wind biting my hands every time I take them out of my pockets. Finally, I get tired of the endless talk of Buddy Holly’s plane crash and I go home.  Once inside the house, my hands begin to sting and burn.  I am surprised to see how white they are.  Stupidly, I run to the bathroom sink and plunge them into warm water.  I scream in pain and eventually my mother comes. 

double dare
her tongue sticks
to an icicle

My hands are red and swollen with blisters. The pain is excruciating and I can’t sleep. In the morning, a doctor is summoned to the house and he diagnoses chilblains. 

guitar riff fingering the pain scale over the top

Eventually, my hands heal but the memory of that searing pain returns whenever it is cold. I never again forget my gloves.  

A few years later, as a student nurse, I am assigned to the burn unit.  I don an isolation gown and take elaborate precautions to protect my patient from infection.  His chest, arms and hands are covered with burns.  

howling wind
a wounded deer 
crosses my path

Failed Haiku A Journal of English Senryu

Vol 6 Issue 72

It’s 1952 Again

We’re transplants from the clotted streets of Brooklyn to a brand new tract home next to a Long Island farm. We spend the summer catching tadpoles in giant jars of stream water. We watch them turn into slippery and hard-to-grasp toads. This place is idyllic, perfect. But only for a minute.

Darkness sets in along with a tightness in my chest.  The muck on the bottom of the stream grows like something in a horror movie. My feet are stuck  but I break away, heart pounding. 

Looking back, my best friend Johnny is caught in the muck. He turns into an enormous tadpole and I watch him disappear into the murky water. I scream his name until my mother comes. The only word I hear her say is polio.

falling from a tree the blue of a robin’s egg

Grandmother’s Pearls : An Anthology of Dream Poems

ed. Alexis Rotella

Published 2021

Midnight Shift

Only this time, I’m wearing a gown, mask, gloves and a cap just like the ones we wore in the OR years ago. Except I’m not in the OR, but an isolation unit. It’s summer and I’m sweating– moisture flows between my breasts, down the inside of my legs, my back. The mask is soaked, breath sour. As soon as I finish with one patient’s care, another is rolled in. Then another. And another.

no breath
a so-called friend
holds my head under

Grandmother’s Pearls : An Anthology of Dream Poems

ed. Alexis Rotella

Published 2021

Breath Prayer

It is evening and I have been in labor off and on for 24 hours.  But it is also Thanksgiving Day and the doctor advises me to get some rest and call him in the morning. Unless my water breaks or the contractions become more regular and intense, I will not be delivering my baby today.  So I wait, trying to rest between contractions.  I sit in a large wing chair, legs folded in front of me, like a huge Buddha, staring at the painting which hangs on the wall.  It is a picture of Paris at night and I wonder what it would be like to visit that city.  Soon I am bored with the painting and I close my eyes for a minute or two. 

gentle ocean waves
lap against the shore
moon time

I decide to pray while I wait for this little one to make an entrance.  I am too tired to look for my rosary beads and use my fingers instead.  It is soothing to repeat the familiar words and it does not escape me that I am praying to the mother of all mothers, Mary.  I think for awhile about what her labor must have been like.  The long ride on a donkey, and then no place to sleep for the night, she ends up in a stable with the animals, and then her labor begins.  She is alone except for her spouse, who must have delivered the baby.  I am grateful for a warm, clean house and a spouse (in spite of the fact that he is snoring at the moment)  

breath prayer
a quiet bell rings
in the distance

I put my hands over my belly as if to touch the child within me, the child who will soon leave me.  Will I have a son or a daughter? I try each one on for size, imagining myself holding first, a son, then a daughter.  Soon I am cooing and whispering softly to the child within me.  I don’t ask it any questions or worry about who he or she will be. I savor these last few hours of our oneness. The contractions keep coming but not forcefully or frequently enough to progress my labor, arriving just often enough to interrupt any real rest.


windy day
a child hangs on
to the kite string

So it comes to this.  All through the dark night I learn about waiting. Dozing, walking, lamaze, hail Mary, dozing, walking, lamaze, hail Mary, waiting.  It is a long night. When morning comes, I see the doctor and he admits me to the hospital where they use drugs to jump start my labor.  Still more waiting. It becomes harder to think of anything except pushing the baby out into the world.  I go inside myself to find the strength to do that and finally, the baby arrives.  She tucks herself into the crook of my arm as though she has always been there and I then wait for her to wake up. 

silent night
the kitchen feels so warm
after a long walk

Haibun Journal Issue 2:1

Spring 2020

 

Hot Romance

The summer is the best time to fall in love. Endless days with long, languid afternoons in the sun. The very definition of being young is to waste time as if it will last forever. Now I am old, but not too old to remember.

sunburn
the tingle of salt water
on my skin

I am outdoors in the cool of the early morning, sipping tea and inhaling the breath that the trees have just exhaled.  Today will be humid like the day I met him. 

dew covers
my favorite bench
morning kiss

 

Failed Haiku A Journal of English Senryu 

July 2019

Sings My Soul

I saw a Scarlet Tanager today. A rare sight in these parts. It must be the mulberries, ripening with giddy abandon. The bird perches on a branch outside my window for a few minutes, inviting admiration. An orange blur swoops in to claim the mulberry tree as his own. My oriole. I watch as he intimidates a squirrel and chases a pair of blue jays. Fair weather clouds wander by on a breeze. Oh, and the music of a song sparrow in my ears.

summer solstice
flowers of every color
vie for my attention

Failed Haiku A Journal of English Senryu

November 2017

Fragment

She is riding on an old fashioned sleigh with a back and side bar to hold her in the seat. Cold air bites her bare cheeks. There is a baby on the sleigh in front of her and she holds the other child under its arms.

puppies
curled up together
winter sun

There is a roughness on her cold cheek – a scarf perhaps, or the back of her sister’s snowsuit.  She closes her eyes against the bright snow.

comfort food
the smell of sleep
on an old blanket

Someone lifts her up and carries her into a blast of warm air as they enter the apartment.   The stiff clothes are peeled from her body.  Her aunt offers hugs and kisses. 

tomato soup
the way love tastes
in a memory

~~~

Bards Annual 2017

First published in Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, November 2016

Caught

She finishes her exercise routine just as the ‘oldies’ music ends.  As she passes by her wall of childhood memories, the woman notices her favorite photo and soon she is lost in reverie. Her five year old self, dressed in a sleeveless romper, head thrown back toward the sun, is laughing. A stone ledge, where she is sitting, surrounds a  weedy garden, filled with early summer wildflowers. She knows her sister and cousin were with her, but she can’t remember why they aren’t in the picture.  The photo never fails to give her a warm feeling – what joy might feel like before something bad happens.

midnight wind
a pond filled with
shards of moonlight

~~~

Haibun Today A Quarterly Journal

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017

~~~

From Here To There

 Planting seeds in the spring requires a leap of faith. The distance from this early spring day to the harvest will be counted in bug battles, hours of prayer for good weather, and the ton of weeds ripped from the ground. The magician seed, for its part, will embrace soil, light and rain. 

first tomato
I taste the sun’s warmth
in a daydream

Akitsu Quarterly

Spring 2017