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Posts Tagged ‘haibun’

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Picasso, Girl before a Mirror, 1932.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City

… young and beautiful, her arms cradle a large oval mirror as she gazes at her reflection, surrounded by bold diamond shaped geometric patterns, vertical and horizontal stripes rendered in vibrant saturated hues—pigments chosen for their emotive source of colour rather than to express the intended scene …

looking back
from the depths
of the mirror
her image
as an old woman

hard, angular features
framed in sombre colour
nature’s reminder
that time ages
all lovely things

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This land, where not a drop of rain has fallen for over a year and the ground, cross-hatched with deep cracks and dry fissures, lies baking in the blistering sun; where every puff of wind reorganizes the loose topsoil into rising and falling patterns, and each dessicated tree—if you can still find one standing—every withered bush, or dead clump of bleached grass, and even the land itself cries out for the smell of rain. We cry for you too; our tears the only moisture you will ever taste – you poor, worn out, dusty old rag of a place . . .

sheltered
between the stones
a tiny flower blooms

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beyond snowfall
and barren branch
lies a deeper silence 
breaking our bond
to set us adrift

I hold my mother’s hand, feeling its tissue soft skin, her small fragile bones. She’s hunched over in her chair near the window. As I tell her about our family, her eyes grow cloudy and she withdraws. I speak on but she doesn’t hear me. I hold up a soft pink shawl I brought, yet she doesn’t see it. Then I lean forward excitedly with, ‘Why don’t we go for a drive, past our old house?’ She shows no interest. Finally I kiss her goodbye and move away, closing the door behind me. 

the sun has set
its light has dimmed
to mirror
this  long winter
of dementia

 

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A narrow strip of beach stretches before me. Its white sand warms my feet as its cushion gives way to a wet packed surface near the water’s edge. To the right as far as I can see lie undulating ridges of sand dunes. All are crested with tussocks of spinifex grass holding them firmly against the erosion of wind and water.

On my left is the South Pacific Ocean. I drink in its familiar colours—a glassy turquoise sea—where the horizon becomes blurred in a shimmering haze. Beyond lies the deep expanse of cobalt blue where the seabed drops away. Mirroring the blue below, the sky is laced with weightless clouds.

Closing my eyes I inhale the familiar scent of salt brine. I walk on through the shallows hearing only the drone and splash of the open sea beside me. In this peaceful space I reset my inner compass. Here at the intersection of land and water’s edge, I reclaim the sense of balance that always sustains me.

sleeping tonight
with my hand on your heart
in its steady beat
the roll
of the sea

I dream of shells
salt rinsed, sun bleached
scrolls, fans, spirals
held and admired then
returned to the sea

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The lure of an unfamiliar path or roadway beckons everyone to follow it. Where will this trail lead us—what beauties of nature will unfold to photograph and enjoy—which new discoveries will intrigue and delight us along the way?

When the urge to explore our surroundings became impossible to resist, I prepared a permanent excursion kit, ready and waiting to help us make a quick departure. Packed away in a special basket are: a thermos, tea and coffee bags, pottery mugs, a container for cookies or sandwiches and our well-worn regional map. It takes only a minute to fill the thermos with boiling water and a small bottle with fresh milk. Once we collect our cameras and keys we can be off and on our way.

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What I love about my adventure kit, is that there’s no raking through chests and cupboards before we can finally leave home. If you enjoy exploring the out-of-doors, set up your own kit to keep packed and ready to go? It’s often these spontaneous outings that provide the richest and most enjoyable experiences nature can offer.

on the road again
windows wide open
pedal to the floor
not even westerly winds
can catch us

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Jasmine

winter afternoon
a grey washed sky –
when on the wind
the fragrance of jasmine
from a woman’s perfume

I’m in the bedroom of our family home again standing at the window—enjoying the heady scent of five star jasmine that grows over our back fence—admiring the lace pattern of the curtains—when in the next breath as I expect to hear my mother’s voice call out, ‘It’s time for bed now,’ I’m back again in a bleak city fifty years away.

 

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a brochure arrives
from Great Keppel Island
underwater scenery
never experienced before
confirms our vacation

We take our place along the side of a glass bottom boat. Everyone aboard is chatting with excitement as we move out to sea. Our tour guide, a young marine biologist, begins his commentary. ‘Look below, at the great variety of life beneath you. Its rich, vibrant colours and multitude of marine life make this reef one of Australia’s major tourist attractions.’

we exclaim over
bright tropical fish
exotic coral formations and
the sheer abundance of
this underwater kaleidoscope

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As we continue to move forward the seabed slowly loses its colour. Everyone grows silent as our guide continues. ‘The first signs of ocean acidity have appeared. You are all aware now that our increased carbon pollution has caused global warming. Because of the run-off of poisons and harmful chemicals from heavy industry, mining and agriculture, the corals are becoming badly affected.’

Stretching below for many kilometres ahead, we see only the bleached skeletal remains of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. One of the seven wonders of the natural world is dying. A shocked and hushed silence continues for the remainder of our trip.

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Images: courtesy of the Australian Geographic

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We guide our canoe through the shallows of a peaceful billabong. As the afternoon passes the water becomes as still as glass, reflecting the grotesque shapes of old rugged trees on its mirrored surface. The only sound is the gentle splash of our bow. We stop to rest—our paddles across our knees—as small droplets from the wet blades create ever-widening circular pools. Paddling closer to the edge we savour the quiet of this moment, this small gift of nature that never ceases to sustain and uplift us.

on the breeze
the distant call
of a crow

(billabong: an Australian term for the branch of a river forming a blind channel, backwater, or a stagnant pool)

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to the south
lies a pristine beach
bounded by
sandy shores
and a turquoise sea

lying in rows
on colourful towels
oil-slicked bodies
of sun worshipers
barbeque themselves

* * *

Later we visit the far northern beach. Crude oil, spilled from an off-shore tanker, covers kilometres of sand and rocks. Council workers and volunteers still rake and scrub to remove all the stinking sludge. A colony of pelicans was discovered, covered in oil, unable to fly or forage for food. Members of the Animal Welfare Service collected them and tended to their needs. Of the survivors, six birds are now clean and healthy enough to release back into their habitat.

 Six cages are placed along a clean stretch of beach, facing the sea. A worker stands behind each cage, then slowly raises the front panel and backs away. The pelicans remain motionless. All are silent until one large bird tentatively steps outside. One by one the others follow as the colony slowly approaches the shore. Again the birds wait. Then on some invisible cue, they all race into the water where they swim, dive and fly freely once again.

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Our day ends with a late afternoon walking meditation. There is just enough time for one  final ‘walkabout’ in nature−−to enjoy her charms and to dream, touch, smell and capture a  last ‘Ah – Ha’ haiku moment. Armed with notebooks and pens we move ahead, as a sliver of pink and gold appears and then widens over the rim of the horizon.

our poet’s walk
rings with the resonance
of singing bell birds

The pace quickens as rich foliage deepens into shadow. Trees and shrubs along a forest stream suddenly fall silent as the horizon now flames orange red. The sky above provides just enough light to guide us back safely, before darkness draws its cover over the land.

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