Green memorial – haibun for dVerse.

We took the quieter path through the trees. It runs alongside an old canal, a memorial in itself to local people who carved it out of the steep hillside. We walked the old towpath – single person narrow – above the river and beside the canal itself, empty of water, but full of nettles, red campion, dog’s mercury. We stopped to read the names carved into the bark of a beech tree – Layla 7 years old Jack 4 years old. We wondered who they were; worked out they might be in their thirties now, with children of their own. We wondered who had carved this green memorial, and why. The beech tree kept its secret, even though the leaves were whispering all around us.

trees are green guardsmen

river water slow and silent

time blurs all our names.

I went on a poetry walking workshop on Sunday, with Chris from Poetry Pin. We walked, wrote poems, and pinned them to a virtual map, so that future poetry lovers can read them in the place they were written. Along the way we found a beech tree with these names carved into the bark. We wrote a poem there, so if you’re ever on the Tarka Trail, you can read it and connect with us on a wet Sunday in May.

This haibun commemorates that walk. It’s a memorial of a memorial, maybe. It’s written for Frank, who is hosting haibun night at dVerse tonight. It’s Veterans’ Day in the States, and we are asked to write about memorials.

Advertisements

March – haibun for dVerse

March is the toddler month – on the first day she brought us sunshine and led us out to the vegetable patch. On the second day she screamed a gale and threw rain clouds across the sky. I don’t know what to wear today, or what her mood will be like.

golden celandine

primrose tucked beneath the hedge

sunlight on the grass

Merrill is hosting at dVerse tonight and we are writing haibuns. I’m trying to make my haibuns shorter and tighter at the moment – as is traditional.

The seasons turn – haibun for dVerse

There was frost on the car this morning. It’s the first time I’ve had to scrape the windscreen this year. I allowed myself a moment of smugness for  having had the scraper to hand.

The clocks changed this weekend – fall backwards, they remind us – so it’s darker earlier. That feels like a big shift, but actually, things have been changing gently over the last few days – some trees are still green, some are gold and amber, some are practically naked now. There are bright red berries on the holly, the apples are all picked, and the blackberries are finished. We’ve had big moons, and impossibly clear nights full of stars, and we’ve had brooding cloudscapes hanging over us. The swallows are long gone, and I haven’t seen the first starlings yet, but the rooks are everywhere. We’ve put aside summer shirts, and I wore a woolly hat today to walk on the beach, even though the sky was bright, shiny blue.

rooks cast black shadows
trees throw golden cascades
nights are full of stars

Merril is hosting at dVerse tonight, and asking us to write about a period of transition. This is very simple, but the clocks going back feels quite significant. 

Water – haibun for dVerse

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. 

My imperfect vegetable patch – haibun for dVerse

Come outside with me now. Through the gap, across the cobbles, round the corner, and there it is. Look at it with a gardener’s eye for a moment – note the weeds – those speedwells, blue as ripped up scraps of sky; dandelion leaves sharp as teeth; grass encroaching, insinuating its green way across the soil. Nothing is quite in a row. The Trail of Tears sends purple tendrils, coaxing the walking onion to join the wigwam. There’s a squash plant running riot, creeping through the patch, popping up between pea plants.Frankly, it’s a mess.

Now look at it again, with me. Stand here, beside me, in the early morning light, when the grass is heavy with dew. Look at that purple – the dark rippling leaves of the cavolo nero, the midnight pods of the Trail of Tears dangling like heavy tears themselves – and the orange – joyous nasturtiums tumbling over the path, courgette and squash flowers flaunting themselves, flirting with the bumble-bees – and all those greens -the green lettuce leaves, lit from within, fat pods of broad beans, lined with velvet, chard, and peas, and turnip tops, a riot of green.

Trail of tears entwine
green heart of the garden,
bright gold early morning

This is for Victoria at dVerse, who asks us to glory in imperfections this week. There aren’t many things as imperfect as my vegetable patch, but I love being out there…

Summer Time

Summer rain spills warm –

Roses hang their heads – but soon –

They will be nourished

 

A little summer time haiku for Heeding Haiku with Chèvrefeuille.  I’m never quite sure what I’m doing with a classical haiku, so if anyone wants to point out where I’m going wrong, I’d be very grateful. I’m here to learn and grow. 

Summer – haibun for dVerse

We come here all through the winter. We’ve swum here on days when the sea has been a great, grey cat, tossing us like tiny toys. We’ve emerged shivering, glowing with cold and triumph. We’ve been the only swimmers, sometimes sharing the water with gleaming black clad surfers, sometimes sharing the beach with dog-walkers wrapped in coats and scarves.

Today, however, it’s summer. I’ve picked my son up from a hot coach, after a long drive back from a science fair. There’s a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in a bag on the back seat,and his swimming trunks are in the boot. We’ve collected his best friend, and an older brother who is wilting in the heat, and I’ve brought them to the beach. We’ve picked our way over the pebble ridge, clambering over the smoothly rounded stones, and slipped and slithered our way down the other side, carrying rugs, towels and ice cold drinks.

Up by the causeway there’s a gathering of people, brightly coloured, making their way in and out of the sea. Here, where we are, it’s quieter. We dump our stuff, and plunge into the water, relishing the coolness of it, looking due west, to where the hot sun will sizzle into the ocean in a few hours time. The solstice has brought us the longest, hottest day we can remember, and we are loving it.

Sun hovers, holds back –
cannot bear to leave the day –
gold path in the sea

Dverse is open, and the very graceful Grace is asking for summery haibuns. We had a mini heatwave last week, but we’re back to English summer weather now. Still, a girl can dream.

Cracks – kintsugi for dVerse

On Friday night the weather was glorious. We threw some towels into the car and drove to the beach. Just as we pulled up by the pebble ridge, my friend Tracey pulled up next to us, with her two daughters, Jojo and Julia. We climbed the ridge, laughing and stumbling, negotiating the warm, round stones – dull grey, sometimes splintered through with bright, white quartz. The wide bay faces west, so the afternoon sun sits out to sea, setting eventually behind the island, but still high in the sky when we arrived. The sea was clear blue, sparkling in the sunlight. The tide was on the way in, and we hurried to get into the water before it reached the pebbles. Jojo helped her sister into the water, and then helped her again when it was time to get out. Then we sat on the warm rocks, soaking in the sunlight, warming our bones, talking, laughing, enjoying being together. Just being together is a miracle.

Just over a year ago, Julia had a massive brain bleed. She was nine. Amazingly, there was an ambulance driving through the village when her mum dialled 999, and even more amazingly the air ambulance happened to be at our local hospital when she arrived there. She was flown 150 miles to a specialist centre, where the surgeon had just finished operating and was able to wait for her to arrive, and take her straight to theatre. Even so, she spent three weeks in intensive care, and three months in hospital.

I watched the family crack, but hold together. I saw how much work Tracey put into keeping things going, and how much love and care surrounded them, but at times it wasn’t enough. The stress was overwhelming, the strains became almost too much, but somehow each of them was able to reach out and hold on, and pull things back together again. Sometimes Tracey was the strong one, sometimes her mum stepped in, sometimes her husband shouldered things. Sometimes Jojo took on more than a 14 year old really should. There were cracks, yes, but they were filled up with love and family, and kindness. There will always be cracks, I think, but that love that fills them has made them part of the family story and the family strength.

Summer sun on sea
moments of love and healing
warmth of air and stone

Grace at dVerse is tonight’s bartender. She asks us to think about the wonderful art of kintsugi, mending things so that the repair becomes part of the beauty of the piece. ” In Japanese, the word kintsugi means “golden rejoining,” and refers to the Zen philosophy of acknowledging flaws, embracing change, and restoring an object with a newfound beauty” she explains. The story I thought of is all there, it needs no explanation.