OLN: Rice Planting

Today is Open Link Night at dVerse, meaning, we can submit ONE poem of our choice of subject and form. I am also linking this to  Real Toads Thursday Meme   “The one where you grab a nearby book and flip to a specific page to find a quote that represents your love life. You have the choice of going to either page 13 and picking the 7th sentence or page 7 and picking out the 13th sentence to use as your inspiration for your poem. For bonus points, make it a love poem. As always, this should be a new poem created just for this prompt. ”   So I went to the 13th page, seventh line of Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North”.  It is in this book the haibun is created.  I am writing a haibun. and of course, the haibun must be factual and actually have happened to you, followed by a classic haiku. this is my feeble attempt to write the end of the love story in Japanese poetic form.

Rice Planting
“…a song for planting rice”

The day after you left, it rained. There would be no beach trips this September Labor Day holiday. My mind and my heart were with you in Japan. I knew by now you would be at your home in Hakone. I began to cry, at last. the house still smelled of you – of sea air and sandalwood and oddly, soy sauce. Your skin had that liquid salty taste. I know for you I tasted you enough times! But here I sit – alone. I ate some steamed rice and drank some lemonade for lunch. It took me back years ago to my first trip to Japan, a few years before I met you here in America. I remembered the cold day I joined village women in helping to plant rice. The tour guide had asked them if I could. Some conversation finally to – “sure. Let the white woman try to keep up. She’ll be gone in an hour”.  Somewhat roughly translated. But I kept up with them standing in the cold water, delicately planting the rice plants as I had been shown by the lead woman. I stayed all day – using the stick to make a hole and then putting the plant down into the hole and pulling mud around it to anchor it. It was cold, backbreaking, and mind numbing; I was determined to follow the road of Basho and this was one of the stops along the way – Sharakawa. Where Basho was led to write:

“hands planting seedlings
were hands once rubbing patterns
with ferns long ago”

The end of the day I went back to my hotel room and showered. Looking at the rain outside today made me cold – knowing you were gone froze my heart.

cold rain falling hard
cherry trees will soon lose their
leaves – rice is planted

Shiro Kasamatsu – 1789

57 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. whippetwisdom
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 15:28:26

    A beautiful haibun Toni and I love how Basho’s haiku inspired you to plant the rice with these women all day xxx


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 15:32:25

    What a wonderful and classic haibun… love that you did this, and did so much more than trying. Maybe it can relate to the old idea of walking in someone else’s shoes.


  3. Bodhirose
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 15:50:06

    When I read of your lost love I almost feel like crying myself because I know you hold a space in your heart for him still. So beautifully told, Toni, and I love that you kept up with those women all day long planting that rice!


  4. Sanaa Rizvi (@rizvi_sanaa)
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 15:53:14

    This is so incredibly touching, Toni!


  5. Glenn Buttkus
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 15:59:18

    I have found that working with farmers, lumberjacks, & fishermen has expanded my horizons, spread wide empathy, I worked a lot in restaurants when younger; knowing what is going on in the kitchen colors all of my restaurant experiences. Your haibun & personal memories is superb; very satisfying.


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 24, 2017 @ 16:10:50

      Thank you Glenn. I know your put a lot into your poetry. I can watch violence in Movies because I know – it is special fx – the blood is fake. But when I read it, it gets inside my head and stays there for awhile. Sorry I couldn’t do more than skim your entry for today. It is something about which I have a high degree of sensitivity.


  6. Rommy
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 16:20:34

    So wistful and beautifully descriptive. The sadness in both persistence and resignation was well done.


  7. georgeplace2013
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 16:39:32

    Some people and places make a home in our hearts and never leave. This was so tenderly beautiful.


  8. ladynyo
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 19:15:07

    The sadness of this grabs me hard. But it is tender, beautiful this song to another.


  9. ZQ
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 20:34:04



  10. Grace
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 20:38:47

    It is indeed back breaking work. I admire your determination to follow Basho’s journey ~ Love the exquisite personal share Toni ~


  11. lynn__
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 21:23:01

    I may be an Iowa farm partner but not sure I would stand in cold water all day to plant rice! Good for you, Toni. Thanks for sharing your tough (and tender) memories.


  12. kim881
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 03:41:04

    I love this, Toni. You always give so much of yourself in haibun and this one is a beauty. The haiku conveys the emotion so well.


  13. MarinaSofia
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 05:25:50

    The smell of rice paddies after the rain may be one of my favourite smells in the world, but I never thought of the back-breaking work which goes into planting it. What a yearning in this haibun, Toni…


  14. oldegg
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 06:09:15

    This is so beautiful as your haibun transported the reader into the rice paddy with you and emphasised your love for both man and country with such immense feeling.


  15. merrildsmith
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 07:19:29

    This is stunning, Toni. You paint such vivid images with the haibun–and such feelings of longing, melancholy, and determination, too. The final haiku makes me think of Japanese prints (if that makes sense).


  16. sarahrussellpoetry
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 07:48:34

    Lovely weave — the warp, memory of your love just gone; the woof, memory of a day in the past. Well done!


  17. Jane Dougherty
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 11:40:21

    The imagery is so tender and delicate. An exquisite haibun.


  18. Sherry Marr
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 11:56:40

    Such a beautiful sad poem of remembrance. I especially like the planting of rice, following Basho’s path.


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 25, 2017 @ 14:13:45

      Thank you Sherry. A few years later, my lover and I also followed the path of Basho but it was at the time of year when rice was being harvested. He didn’t want to get involved with cutting and lifting the heavy stalks so… but if I had been alone, I would have.


  19. Frank Hubeny
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 13:36:14

    Planting rice reminds me of planting trees. The first few days are the worst and then it becomes relatively easy.


  20. Imelda
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 13:59:33

    It is poignant and hopeful at the same time. 💛


  21. coffeecatspoetry
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 15:21:28

    How beautiful and sad…such an evocative haiku as well. Really enjoyed this, thank you.


  22. Carrie Van Horn
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 16:19:08

    So much hope and strength growing in these lines! Simply beautiful!!


  23. kaykuala (@hankkaykuala)
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 19:29:59

    It was cold, back breaking,
    and mind numbing;

    You’ve said it most rightly, Toni! To think for all the efforts they were given pittance just to survive. It was good to experience it oneself (to realize what the deprived had to do)



    • kanzensakura
      Aug 25, 2017 @ 21:48:41

      And what amazes me is they do not consider themselves deprived. they do the work and get paid a medium sum which with they can purchase things to help improve or feed the family. It amazes how they made so much do with so little.


  24. Kathy Reed
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 20:49:48

    An experience few of us encounter, so well written. I feel the melancholy, the new traditions now embedded in you with scents and tastes…very touching, Toni.


  25. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 21:21:47

    How deeply layered this is! And I love it for that.


  26. purplepeninportland
    Aug 27, 2017 @ 18:47:03

    Thanks for sharing this perfectly-structured haibun. What an experience that must have been. Every image in here is vividly felt.


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