Memento Mori

I began the custom of keeping the seasons in the manner of the Japanese, while I was in a long-term relationship with a gentleman I called, my Samurai. The starkness of words to portray seasons and events of the seasons appealed to me and have become as much a part of me as my Southern drawl.

public domain photo

Memento Mori
Silent empty country road.
Houses huddled in fields,
small lots down dirt roads.
The tires of my car hum
on the cold empty roads.
Quiet here now between kareno (withered fields).
Stretches of rolling sepia
swept clean by cold winds: kogarashi (withering winds) –
ochiba (fallen leaves) swept to the verge
of surrounding bare woods.
Fuyu no chinmoku (winter silence) beckons.
I park my car on the side of the road
and begin to walk in this particular field.
My feet leave no mark on the frozen ground.
Only the staccato bark of a distant crow
pierces the silence.
I step over a small stream – mizu karu (water dried up)
and head towards the line of trees.
No signs warning “Posted – No Trespassing”.
I am free to roam as I wish.
My eyes fix upon three small trees on
The edge of the field:  Two taller, bare and gnarled,
tangled as if holding in their bony arms
a small tree in turn its lowest branch
cradling an abandoned nest –
the image of a Victorian sepia
memento mori.
I stop at a respectful distance,
my hands folded, my head bowed.
The samushi (cold air) makes my nostrils tingle.
Soft pattering on the branches of the bare trees begins.
Mizore (sleet) falls from iron sky.
I stand in the cold.
I stand in this landscape,
at peace in this landscape –
I stand – still – in this landscape –
a haiku of no words.

public domain photo

22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Charley
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 20:34:50

    Rippana haiku.


  2. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Aug 26, 2017 @ 09:10:33

    What a beautiful poem! I like the way you weave the Japanese words into the poetry, and I think the whole has the flavour of an extended haiku. (Yes, I know that’s a contradiction in terms, but even so.)


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 26, 2017 @ 10:20:49

      Thank you Rosemary. That is an exactly what I intended – to bring out that around us those “oh” moments are constantly in flux. That nature is always happening. I had intended this for the mid-week challenge of Nature at PU. I’ve been working on this poem for about two years. I take my haiku seriously as you know. Without the element of nature, a “haiku” without it is just amother american sentence. Without nature, don’t call it haiku. With nature around us all the time, there is no excuse to not use it. I xould go on and on about haiku and the bastardization of this incredible ancient form, but I won’t. As it stands, again thank you for your sensitivity to what was intended in this poem. Blessings.

      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®|PRO


  3. sarahrussellpoetry
    Aug 26, 2017 @ 14:39:23

    “…a haiku of no words…”. Perfect! I didn’t realize there were so many Japanese words that take a phrase to define in English. Love it!


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 26, 2017 @ 17:59:25

      One of my favorite words is kisame (kee-sah-may) that means, rain that drips from tree branches, especially in spring or winter when the branches are usually bare. Now that’s a phrase for you with one word! Thank you.


  4. Victoria C. Slotto
    Aug 26, 2017 @ 15:18:03

    So very atmosphereic. If they ever let me do another haibun, I would love to return here for an idea. Oooh, I have a gorgeous blue, blue jay outside my window. Sharing with you.


    • Victoria C. Slotto
      Aug 26, 2017 @ 15:18:50

      By the way, I love your choice of title. Wrote one of those myself a long time ago, but how perfect for this.


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 26, 2017 @ 17:57:15

      Please do return here for an idea Victoria. Is the blue jay one of the stellar jays? I love those birds. I love the blue jays in my neck of the woods. Sassy creatures. Thank you for your encouragement. I was actually looking at memento mori images on the internet, for some reason. How heartbreaking are some of them! I saw one with a mother and a father cradling their dead baby between them and in the baby’s hands was a small toy. Shortly after I went on one of my “drives” in the dead of winter and saw this long field across from several small houses. I decided to walk in the field. And thus this poem was born. It is about two years old, been working on it and finally decided it was time to let it go. I am glad this poem pleased you. I am complimented you would think of using it to source one of the haibun prompts.


  5. Mary
    Aug 27, 2017 @ 14:30:49

    What a beautifully penned poem of appreciation of nature. I like the idea that perhaps the landscape is a haiku of no words. Always so good to see your poetry in the pantry.


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 27, 2017 @ 14:32:38

      Thank you Mary. It is good to be here rummaging around in the Pantry and tasting of all the wonders here. I had meant this poem for the mid-week challenge but didn’t finish editing it in time. I’ve been working on this poem for several years and I think I finally have it where I want it. Blessings.


  6. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Aug 27, 2017 @ 15:20:17

    The wonderful contradiction of a haiku of no words in this poem works so well… lovely


  7. ZQ
    Aug 27, 2017 @ 17:47:40

    “Memento mori (Latin: “remember that you have to die”) is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.”


  8. Sherry Marr
    Aug 27, 2017 @ 19:05:32

    I stand in this landscape. A haiku of no words. How very beautiful. This is gorgeous work!


  9. Magaly Guerrero
    Aug 27, 2017 @ 21:16:40

    The last line made me gasp. Perfect.

    And, what Bjorn said.


  10. thotpurge
    Aug 27, 2017 @ 22:08:20

    Love the mood and the cold winter landscape…


  11. Sumana Roy
    Aug 28, 2017 @ 00:30:11

    You made us feel the awe and the stillness around specially in the final line. Love the Japanese words giving the poem-texture an exotic beauty. And thanks a bunch Toni for the beautiful comment in my blog. Enjoyed your desert dream too. Wish it becomes a part of one of your beautiful poems someday.


  12. Beverly Crawford
    Aug 28, 2017 @ 11:31:30

    What a lovely write! Your rich descriptive phrases of the walk in the field took me back to my childhood and many experiences that were much the same in the rural area where I grew up. Thank you for that!


  13. ladynyo
    Aug 28, 2017 @ 20:50:04

    I entered this as in a dream. It is real but also a dream scape to me. Provocative and evocative. Your winter landscape pulls at memories.


  14. Sanaa Rizvi (@rizvi_sanaa)
    Aug 29, 2017 @ 07:18:21

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous ❤️


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