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. 

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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. 

Haibun for dVerse – feel the fear

It’s hard to say what I was so afraid of. It’s hard to imagine what I was so afraid of. I was five hours’ drive from home, with one of my oldest friends, in a smallish room, with pictures lining the walls, and friendly people sitting at tables. We were sharing a bottle of wine, white wine, that we had brought with us. My friend smiled confidently at the master of ceremonies. She knew him well. “Ah, no” she smiled, in answer to his question. “I’m not reading tonight…

But my friend is“.

So perhaps I was afraid that nobody would listen. That they wouldn’t like my stuff. That they would realise I’m not a poet at all, I’m an imposter. The wine tasted sour in my mouth and I struggled to concentrate on what anyone else was reading. When I was asked to stand, I winced, but I went for it. I opened my mouth, and listened to the words spilling out:

“I used to think that poetry had to be about something big and important, but now I find I mostly write about rooks…”

And off I went.

the wild bird flies free
sunlight breaks through rolling clouds
a flower opens

Toni at dVerse has asked us to write a haibun about overcoming a fear. I did my first poetry reading last week, while staying with a friend who is a confident and seasoned poet and performer. It was terrifying, and then it stopped being terrifying and was great! I had committed myself to doing a reading this year. I might even do more…

Good Night – Haibun for dVerse

If you’ve lived with cold, real cold, you might not understand our excitement. We come from a temperate climate, where snow causes chaos for a day or two every few years. Snowflakes are indistinguishable blobs of white, bringing joy to school-children – and those of us who still appreciate being at the mercy of the weather. But this was Finland, in January, and it was cold. Colder than I’d thought possible. Nights were long, and the days were short – the pink and orange light of sunrise fading gently into the red and gold of sunset, with the snow reflecting back the shimmering colours. Snowflakes were intricately embroidered creations.

We’d gone to the edge of a frozen lake – only distinguishable as a lake because there were no trees growing there – and waited with a group of other people, hoping to see the Lights. It was cold. Our breath formed clouds around us, and we shuffled and jigged, keeping our feet moving, talking, joking, waiting. Gradually everyone else left, in search of hot chocolate, or maybe a nightcap. No Lights tonight, they all agreed. But we are stubborn, and we hung on, the four of us alone in the wide, white night. We finally decided to go, when our youngest started to noticeably droop, and that was when they came. White lights dancing in the sky, just for us. Our memory, to hold for ever.

Whiteness all around
Snowflakes dance their way to earth
Lights dance in the sky.

Toni is tending the bar at dVerse tonight. It’s the last haibun of 2016, and she’s wishing us a “Good Night”. You should head over there and read some haibuns. Life is beautiful. 

City Haibun – for dVerse

Winter’s cold fingers are almost touching the city, and the guy who sleeps under the flyover is carrying an extra blanket. I try not to look as I walk past, pulling my coat around me. As the sun sets, streetlights glow brighter than stars, shop windows shine clearer than the moon. Each puddle holds a shard of city, a kaleidoscope of lights shine at my feet. There’s a couple already drinking outside a bar – I watch him light her cigarette, see how they laugh together, but I don’t stop. My feet beat in the commuter’s rhythm now. I’m in a hurry, stopping at the convenience store for bread and milk, a pizza and a bottle of wine. I want to get home, out of the wind that’s rolling down the street, and the rain that’s just starting. It’s been a long day, but the city will be up all night, drinking and dancing and carrying on without me.

Autumn’s open hand

Spills chilly moonlight, cold stars

Dance through the  puddles.

 

This is a slightly less traditional haibun than usual, because Bjorn at dVerse is a bit of rebel…He’s asked for something that captures the city, in all its sleazy, neon glory. If you head over there you can knock back a Cosmopolitan and try a haibun out for yourself.