Haibun: No Ko Me

Today Victoria is prompting us for the Monday Haibun.  A haibun is a Japanese poetic form mixing prose and haiku.  It must be true and is usually written in the first person.  Today her prompt is:  No Ko Me—Tree Buds or something pending.  Come join us for this beautiful and seasonal prompt.

copyright kanzen sakura

No Ko Me
My ex-lover and I always marked the changing seasons as the Japanese do; but he was Japanese so there you go. As a Southern white girl, I always made note of the seasons, usually by smell: the freshly cut grass of summer, the snow scent of winter, the autumn leaves’ must, and of course, the fresh smell of tender buds of spring. Masashi taught me much more – the tens of thousands of kigo relating to the changing seasons and about mujo – change.

Around mid-February we would inspect the trees and shrubs on our property seeking out the most infinitesimal of growing buds which sprinkled the branches like individual dark red snowflakes. We knew that first spring was soon to be here. The buds would grow bigger until they would burst forth into bloom. A flower here, there, and soon second spring there would be flowers everywhere.

I would delicately touch the tree buds or gently kiss them soothing their pain. He told me the buds felt pain at growing large and then giving birth to flowers and leaves just as a woman felt pain at giving birth. In the rain I would imagine the buds weeping with pain but then the joy when the flower would unfold. I would stand beneath our cherry trees as the petals would fall to the ground – children that only lived for a day.

pain of tree buds
birthing into flowers –
petals fall – drops of blood

flowering quince copyright kanzensakura



42 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Francina
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 19:13:15



  2. Victoria C. Slotto
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 20:46:12

    This is such a thoughtful glimpse into the persona of spring. I had never thought of the pain of birthing flowers though the brevity of their beauty most often leaves me feeling wistful. Your lover, though gone, has taught you so much, which leave me grateful that he was in your life. The pain of birth, the pain of loss, the circle of life…


  3. Janice
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 21:36:41

    What a beautiful practice of observation (watching the buds). The notion of pain in blossoming is exquisite (sounds strange when I say this…but the idea of plant feelings brings you in closer)


  4. Sherry Marr
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 21:38:39

    Toni, this is so beautiful…….I never thought of it that way, the buds feeling the pain of birth. How wonderful. I will always remember this now. At the beach right now there is a pussywillow bush with furry blooms………that makes me SO HAPPY!!!!!! Ridiculously so!


  5. ladynyo
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 22:04:19

    So tqctile, Toni. And I use my smeller the same way you do. A lovely, evocative haibun.


  6. rothpoetry
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 22:18:46

    Interesting concept. Buds having pain… sort of like a mini scar on a tree trunk?


  7. Gospel Isosceles
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 22:34:16

    The short cycle of life is much to celebrate. I enjoyed hearing about your anticipation of the blooms.


  8. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 22:52:37

    Never likened the budding to child birth and ” children that only lived for a day.” Wow – love both of those images! Thank you.


  9. Jane Dougherty
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 06:11:12

    What powerful images! Though I bet the idea that trees suffer as much as women in giving birth is an image thought up by a man…


    • merrildsmith
      Mar 06, 2018 @ 07:20:40

      I thought that, too, Jane. 😉


      • Jane Dougherty
        Mar 06, 2018 @ 08:36:36

        You can always count on men to belittle the pain of childbirth. There’s a lovely story in one of the Irish myth cycles about Macha who because of her husband’s boasting of how fast she can run finds herself forced to race against the High King’s chariot horses despite being heavily pregnant. She wins, gives birth to twins on the finishing line and curses the Ulster warriors with the pains of childbirth for five days when they are in greatest need. When they are attacked by (I think it’s Queen Medh) the warriors writhe about on the ground, incapable of defending themselves never mind getting up and fighting. I love this recognition that while a woman nine months pregnant with twins can race against chariot horses and win, a great warrior in the same pain, is incapable of even standing upright.


        • kanzensakura
          Mar 06, 2018 @ 09:22:33

          It is not belittling the pain of childbirth. Rather it is using the spirits of plants and animals to speak to the universality of the pain of chi!dbirth. I can’t believe that a simple belief in the pain of flowers would give rise to comments about men coming up with the idea of it. I don’t know and I don’t care who came up with the belief. To me it is a sad and beautiful statement about how the pain of childbirth is pain…plain and simple. I never had children and never wanted them. I guess that makes me a man in my simplistic belief that even buds feel pain giving birth to flowers.


          • Jane Dougherty
            Mar 06, 2018 @ 09:36:35

            Okay, heavy-handed humour. I’m sorry, it wasn’t meant to be offensive. I said it was a powerful image and it is. TS Eliot used it too.


            • kanzensakura
              Mar 06, 2018 @ 12:50:30

              Sorry for my spurt of temper. Yes, Eliot used it too showing his sensitivity. I spend too much of my time alone or in nature and forget about humor at times. I am also used to having to “take up for” the Japanese sensibilities which most people do not understand it or care to understand. Believe it not, in the early ’70s I was part of the early feminist movement. Now I get a little irritated when it is suggested that men do not understand or appreciate women. Granted, 99.5% of them do not but a few of them do try. The me too movement has strengthened this and now we are back to empowering women. It would be nice if women didn’t have to fight so hard. But what can I say other than clucking my tongue and saying “men”…in that tone of voice. ??


              • Jane Dougherty
                Mar 06, 2018 @ 14:10:30

                That Japanese sensibility is something we in the West find hard to fathom. The idea of perfection and of natural beauty that can be ‘arranged’ for example. You have a head start because you have been immersed in it. You have lived with someone who has been able to open your eyes to it. I find that search for perfection alien, but there are things in every culture that are alien. I couldn’t count the number of things in US culture that leave me perplexed! Feminism seems to have changed since its origins. A lot of women seem to think that feminists are anti feminine and feminism means having gorgeous hair and being a celebrity. I do think that men haven’t changed much in their general attitudes towards women, and too many of them really do think that they are physically so much stronger than women that anything that women are obliged to suffer (like childbirth) must be pretty soft. It’s changing, and we will end up having equality because men and women communicate better and it’s harder to denigrate someone you know is your equal in terms of strength of character and intellect.


                • kanzensakura
                  Mar 06, 2018 @ 15:40:42

                  And this is why I fell in love with my husband – I felt I had finally met my match intellectually and even, physically. He does tae kwan do and I do katana. The r=eraly femininists were all about short hair, plain clothing, patchouli oil, and no makeup. I never did catch on to that part but I learned to be stronger. I had a mother who was a warrior! She left me that sense of fighting for what is right.


                  • Rosemary Nissen-Wade
                    Mar 06, 2018 @ 16:33:41

                    Thanks, Jane and Toni, for engaging with all this – a timely and thought-provoking discussion on the eve of International Women’s Day!


                  • Jane Dougherty
                    Mar 06, 2018 @ 16:54:24

                    That’s the real strength, working for your family 24 hours a day, not the Rambo type stuff while not smudging your mascara that seems to be fashionable now. I’m glad you found your soul mate. Everything and everywhere is bearable when you’re with the right person.


        • merrildsmith
          Mar 06, 2018 @ 12:03:08

          Oh, I love this! 🙂


  10. merrildsmith
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 07:23:32

    Buds feeling such pain makes me sad. There is a beautiful wistfulness in this poem,as well as the transitory nature of life.


  11. Singledust
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 08:28:35

    so beautiful i had a hard time reading the end and feeling the loss of the petals, a child of a precious moment gone too quickly, thank you for such a touching haibun.


  12. Frank Hubeny
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 10:39:49

    This is the first time I’ve considered that tree buds experiencing pain. I like the idea and it makes sense. There is risk there as well.


  13. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 15:38:44

    Love this.. and amazing that the sense of pain you can bring… why would the spring hesitate if not for the pain… love how you used this, and it does bring up that image of Karin Boye’s poem too.


  14. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 16:31:47

    A fascinating view!


  15. Rommy
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 16:58:45

    Sadness co-exists with beauty in the fall of the cherry blossoms. I make it a point to practice my chabako temae at least once by myself as well as ask my teachers for lessons in it during April.


  16. Misky
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 17:28:13

    What an imaginative personification of the season’s arrival. Splendid writing.


  17. Vivian Zems
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 19:46:14

    I enjoyed this life cycle of the cherry tree….your haibun is quite mesmerising.


  18. thotpurge
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 20:31:59

    That is unnerving ..to think of falling sakura petals as drops of blood.. strong write Toni.


  19. Magaly Guerrero
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 21:32:40

    The bleeding end is so… startling, the image lingers.


  20. Kerry O'Connor
    Mar 07, 2018 @ 09:49:37

    Birth pains of flowers… how unique.


  21. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar
    Mar 07, 2018 @ 19:15:54

    Excellent the second time through as well…


  22. purplepeninportland
    Mar 07, 2018 @ 20:12:12

    How amazing to think of the birth pain of buds, and how sad, the ‘children for a day.’
    Absolutely beautiful writing, Toni.


  23. annell4
    Mar 08, 2018 @ 10:58:47

    A light touch indeed. Beautiful!


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