Today was grey from the moment I opened my eyes. Today was a day without colour – grey sky blurring into grey land. I spent the day in a cloud of grey, distances blurred and lacking definition. A day of minor problems, mild irritations, a day of bland foods and tepid drinks.
first blossoms appear
I am still feeling winter
cold against my skin
A grey haibun for Bjorn at dVerse. Usually I try to flip the prompt and come up with something unexpected, but today was so very grey…
This weekend my brother and I danced to songs I hadn’t danced to for years, and I was reminded of the shabby nightclubs of my teenage years, smelling of cigarette smoke and sexual frustration. We danced under ultraviolet light, round piles of handbags, drank vodka and lime, and hoped we’d get a partner for the final slow dance of the evening. We always went to the toilets in pairs.
You see, I’m a small town girl, from a place that’s a punchline in a joke about the North. I come from a town of terraced houses and tripe stalls; a town that ripped its own heart out 30 years ago in protest at being destroyed. People are always surprised to hear that’s where I’m from. I left a town that nobody ever leaves, my accent softened, my horizons expanded. I think the town has changed more than I have, though. The pits closed, the community drifted. The old, family run businesses faded away, and the chain stores moved in.
I bet the nightclubs are still shabby, though, and still full of teenage girls hoping to find love in the darkness.
snow melts in the sun
spring tiptoes between the trees
small buds start to swell
A haibun for Mish, at dVerse. Two or three tight paragraphs and a haiku. Pop over to the dVerse bar. They’re serving poetry. I won’t be drinking vodka and lime, though…I added the Youtube video because I suddenly realised where that tiptoeing spring came from.
I write. My words spill over pages – scrawled words, jotted down hastily; poems pencilled into notebooks; my daily words, sandwiched between first drafts and shopping lists. Endless lists.
I write in clinic. I’m not going to sit over a keypad while you talk to me. I write in meetings, to keep my monkey hands occupied. I write on the chalkboard at home. Give me an appointment, and I’ll write it on the calendar. I’m analogue, me, as well as digital. More analogue than digital, maybe. Sometimes I’ll write a word just for the pleasure of shaping it.
hawk rides the clear air
earth is a map beneath her
waiting to be read
Kim is keeping the dVerse bar, and asking us to write a haibun about handwriting. Is it a dying art? Well, mine is neither dying, nor an art…
It was one of those quiet days between Christmas and New Year, when the world pauses and holds its breath. It threatened rain, but we went out anyway – down into the valley, and up the green lane on the other side. We stopped at a gate and looked back at our house, then carried on through the mud into the village. We spent a cosy half hour in the Green Dragon – mulled wine and Maltesers – and then walked up the road, admiring the Christmas decorations still hanging in windows and the wreaths on people’s doors.
From the village we dropped down again, and crossed the stream that marks the boundary between parishes in the little wood that runs along the bottom of the valley. Coming up through the field was hard going. Cattle have been in there, and the ground is rutted and dinted, and each rut and dint was full of liquid mud. Back on the lane we turned and headed for home, cold and muddy, and saw the moon, gibbous and glowing, tangled in the branches of a leafless tree. She led us home, haloed in the blue evening sky, singing her pure, cold song of winter.
Moon leads us homeward
Warmer lights, flickering flames
Wait for us inside.
Victoria invites us to create a haibun inspired by fuyu no tsuki – the winter moon. She’s moonlighting at the dVerse bar tonight, serving up moonshine and warm milk.
I want to use my pen as a spade, to dig deeper, to uncover and explore. I want to use my pen as a scalpel, to cut away, to open up. I want to use my pen more often. I want to use the page as a seedbed, where I can grow, put down roots, put out leaves and flowers. I want to open my words up to criticism, so that I can develop my art and my technique. I want to use my voice, to speak my words in public, and learn to enjoy that kind of exposure and sharing of words and thoughts.
I want to write prose. I want to tell stories. I have stories of my own that I want to explore, but I also want to write stories of events that have never happened, tales of places that have never been. I want to develop my craft.
Most of all, I want to be read.
skylark rises high
singing in sunlight, in rain
song spilling freely
Toni at dVerse has given us this prompt. It’s her last time tending the bar at dVerse. I’m sorry that she’s stepping down, but she has new adventures to pursue…
Some nights the stars feel very close. Tonight they are impossibly distant, hung high in the dark sky. The moon is a silver sickle, and there is frost coming. The call of the owl makes me pause, and cock my head to listen again. She is part of this chill night – the soundtrack to winter.
We don’t see her often, though we hear her. Sometimes she swoops ahead of us down the lane, massive and silent. Once we found the imprint where her wings had kissed the snow as she plunged her sharp talons into some small mammal. The spring this year was mild and dry, so our owl will eat well this winter.
Flower faced sister
Swooping silent bringing death
Calling frost and stars
Victoria is playing host at dVerse this chilly winter night – here in the North, anyway. She’s asked us to consider the owl, very much part of my winter nights here in the back end of beyond. If you’re wondering why the owl has a flower face, look here.
I watch you supporting your mother with strong, gentle hands. You’ve thought about this restaurant, you’ve chosen a place where we can manoeuvre the wheelchair easily, where she’ll like the food, where she can look out over the sea and a place she came as a child. It’s lovely here. The sun is shining, the autumn leaves are red and gold against the blue sky. After lunch we wheel your mother down to the seafront, and buy soft, white ice-cream, and she talks about her memories of coming here as a young girl. I watch you listening to her, and I love you for your kindness.
Leaves dance against blue
Sun sparkles on blue water
I don’t know quite how this became our “thing”. We took up the challenge – encouraging each other, competing a little bit – kept up monthly swims all summer, all winter, and all summer again. Now it’s autumn, and we’re still at it. There have been high winds this week, and the surf is big. The clouds are low, and there’s so much spray it’s hard to know where the air ends and the sea begins. It’s a monochrome day as we walk in together, feeling the cold – “It’s not so bad!” – rising over ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips – and then the final dive under a rolling wave, and the triumphant resurfacing.
Grey clouds, grey sea –
petrel hanging above water –
plunging into life
Bjorn is tending bar at dVerse tonight. He wants a watery haibun, with a seasonal haiku. I want a hot whiskey after that.
From squelch to crunch, the first frost changes things, whitens the grass, turns the windscreen into something opaque. It catches the moonlight and tosses back a million stars. It rainbows in the first light of the rising sun.
The first frost smells of winter, that tingle in the nostrils. It sounds like the scrunch of wrapping paper, gifts for my winter baby. It tastes of something clean and clear. It wakes up my skin, but gives a last, Dementor kiss to the few roses still clinging on. It throws a dust sheet over the garden, and promises to keep it safe until spring.
Starlings wheel and turn
Black pattern on orange sky
Frost dances tonight
Victoria is minding things at dVerse tonight, and offers us the first frost as a prompt. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s on the way!
As I write I explore a landscape that changes around me. Sometimes I follow narrow paths that lead me to strange and fantastical places. Sometimes I struggle to clamber over fallen rocks, looking for paths that have been shattered and hidden. I see a temple on a distant mountain, and start making my way there, but find myself distracted by a silent pool, or a particular tree. I start to walk about my garden and end up diving into an ocean wave. I want to explore what it would be like to be a tree. I want to visit a silent world of dark roots. I want to fly with rooks. I want to dance on a moonbeam. And I’d like you to be there with me. I’ll try anything – give me a form and I’ll have a go. Give me a prompt and I’ll roll it round in my hands a few times, until it gives me a new path to venture down, a new scene to describe. I want to live a thousand lives, and take all the roads I couldn’t follow.
Evening grass is green
morning grass is pale with dew
soon there will be frost
Toni is hosting at dVerse, and wants to know why we write the way we do. I never think of myself as having a recognisable style – though I probably do. And I’ve just realised that my haiku probably says much more about me than I intended it to…but that’s poetry, isn’t it?