Going down to the bay

It’s just a short hike from the car, and then a scramble down the cliff path. It’s slippery, and overgrown – you have to clutch at branches to help you down, and you have to take it easy. There are the traces of old steps, and a place where someone’s set a rope to help you. Keep going. Be careful.

The bay itself faces due west, and curves like a hug. It’s a beach of rounded stones, mostly grey, some with quartz lines running through them. Today there are seals watching us curiously, sleek and shiny in the water. We stretch and breathe.

land creatures
drawn to the blue water
seal looks back

A haibun for Frank at dVerse

Cliff walk – haiku sequence for dVerse

green shade
with one step forward
white sunlight

laughing child
small dog running
ears bouncing

“surf’s up, dad!”
this bench remembers
ocean view

small island
between golden beach
and blue horizon

white bird
waves rolling in
ocean’s pulse

I’m never sure if haiku are the easiest thing in the world, or the hardest. Frank at dVerse has asked for a sequence of them. We can count syllables, or write haiku that can be read aloud in a breath, using a short-long-short format, without a syllable count.

A shining moment.

I don’t often get thanks from people I’ve worked with – I think most of them are glad to be moving on – maybe I’m part of something they would like to forget. Three weeks ago, however, I was given flowers, and a card. I was stunned, and moved almost to tears. It was completely unexpected, a gift from a family I’ve worked with for years. The strange thing is, I wouldn’t say I’d made a whole lot of difference: I’ve advocated for them, pushed for a diagnosis that helped with educational planning, but other than that I’ve been mostly offering support and validation. I’m trained to make change, to make things better. I never felt I’d done enough for this family – never been good enough. Maybe that’s something I need to reflect on.

pink and white and blue
I place flowers in a vase
small buds unfurling

Lillian is hosting at dVerse tonight. She asks us to write a haibun about a “shining moment”, incorporating a traditional haiku.

Golden lads and girls

“Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweepers, come to dust.”

Walking up the lane with the kids. We can watch time pass as the flowers change. The primroses are almost over, and the bluebells are here. The last of the cherry blossom petals blow off our neighbour’s tree. The wild orchids are having a final flourish. There are dandelions everywhere – golden lads and girls – and my two teenagers still blow the clocks.

I walked late last night, thinking about this prompt. Shakespeare and Basho – such different writers. Shakespeare piling up his glittering words, creating complex cities of meaning, inhabited by dreams. Basho showing us a single flutter of a butterfly’s wing. It’s hard to see how they are linked at all.

And then Will lets the jewels fall for a moment, and reminds us that all this will fade. Only the words will be left. The golden dandelion becomes a ball of fluffy white, becomes a seed floating over the hedge.

chiff-chaff on a twig

where we once saw the full moon

caught in the branches

A haibun for Frank at dVerse. He asks us to consider Shakespeare and Basho, both great masters of their art, but so different. The starting quotation is Shakespeare, from Cymbeline – Fear no more the heat of the sun. Basho said it in 3 lines.

First day of spring.

In Ireland, the first day of February is the first day of Spring – Imbolc to the ancients, St Brigid’s day to the Catholic church. I try to remember that as I look out at the pouring rain. Later, I walk up the lane. There are snowdrops buried in the dark hedgerow, and I see a single primrose, pale as February sunshine.

so much mud

I can hardly see

the snowdrops

A haibun for Frank, who is hosting at dVerse tonight. He asks us to look for the first signs of spring.

Fresh beginnings

I open the notebook carefully. I always pause before I write in a new notebook – that clean, white page is still daunting. I always run my fingers over the paper first, enjoying the smoothness. I inhale. New paper smells so good. Nothing I can write will be as wonderful as the writing I aspire to . I will make mistakes, I’ll cross things out, I will phrase things badly.

I pause. I write.

clean white page
fresh snow untouched by feet
waiting for words.

A haibun for Bjorn at dVerse. Every note book is a fresh beginning. 

Thank you biscuits

It’s a miserable day. The drive down to the city is messy and difficult – too much rain, too much spray from the road, poor visibility. All the autumn colours are washed out, greyed by the rain.

We take biscuits, shortbread in a fancy tin. I don’t know why we take them today – maybe we’re feeling particularly grateful to the nursing staff who pad gently round the clinic, who are always smiling, who offer comfort and reassurance. They are warmth on this bleak November day.

a red leaf

gold, disregarded

smoke in the air

Frank is taking care of the dVerse bar tonight. Thanksgiving is coming up and we are asked to consider gratitude. 

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.

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.