Haibun – Tarheel

Day 20 of Nano. Sherry is giving the prompt for today at Real Toads. My favorite prompt yet. It is based on the free verse poetry of Al Purdy, poet laureate of Canada. She has gifted us his wonderful poem, Say the Names. It is a true gift. The saying of names of places we loved, people we loved. I am doing a haibun – a true prose accounting of something in our past and ended with a seasonal haiku. Haibun are always in first person and always non-fiction. I truly loved this prompt. I didn’t do it credit but I tried. Wee notes about the pronunciation: Bahama (buh HAY muh) and Moriah (mo-RYE-uh).


I am a North Carolina girl. Born and raised there. Some nights when I can’t sleep, I sit on my back steps and say the names like a litany: Tobacco Road, Research Triangle, Duke University. I go back in my mind and remember: the air smelling like cured tobacco and honeysuckle, the hamburgers at Fint’s Place where my father would sometimes go to play pool. He’d take me along and set me on one of the barstools where I would spin around and around and cadge nickels for the jukebox. The street where we lived in the house built by my great-grandfather’s grandfather – Holloway Street. Trips to the beach through small towns and all of them smelling of pit cooked barbecue and banana pudding and closer the salt of the ocean – Kinston, Wilson, Smithfield, Piney Green, Pumpkin Center all the way to Atlantic Beach and Fort Macon. In the summer the roads would be lined with fields of tobacco, soy beans, corn. Through it all like a silver ribbon, Eno River graces the land through which it flows.

And then the church cemetery where my family is buried – up through Roxboro and turning onto the Moriah Road winding across Lake Michie. Through roads again lined with tobacco and corn, small houses and large houses, newly built and long time ago built. My mother would point out that Aunt Rose lived there and Aunt Blanche raised her boys and Rose’s when Aunt Rose died of cancer too young. Through Stem, Oxford and at last at Bethany Church in Moriah. Both sides of the cemetery flanking the road. My great-grandfather’s great-great grandfather gave the land for use by the church. My family is buried there, the old stones grey and covered by lichen; Elizabeth and Baby Boy, Pearl, George, Celia, Josie and the newer stones, my grandparents Leo and Josie, my father and mother James Robert and Celia. The two huge magnolia trees give shelter in snow and sun. The soil is red as blood and filled with rocks – it took the backhoe crew two days to dig my father’s grave. These names and more sews my soul to this red soiled, kudzu laden land. From Ashville to White Lake, my heart holds too many names to count.  Though I no longer at there, it is still my home – Tarheel born and raised.

honeysuckle drifts
over the land at night –
scents lay us to rest


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jim
    Apr 20, 2018 @ 16:29:57

    Sounds really nice, Toni. Southern ladies, and girls, are elegant. Mrs. Jim is from Louisiana, that’s South but not as elegant. I’ve been to the Carolina’s a few times, always a treat. My BIL is from North Carolina, I’ve forgotten his town.


  2. lynn__
    Apr 20, 2018 @ 16:52:37

    Enjoyed this trip to your places and people immensely…thanks for sharing your memories, Toni!


  3. Sherry Marr
    Apr 20, 2018 @ 17:31:29

    This is so wonderful to read, Toni. You took me right there. The haiku at the end is especially evocative. Scents laying us to rest. I can see those big magnolias, almost smell the honeysuckle. Gorgeous.


  4. Victoria C. Slotto
    Apr 20, 2018 @ 17:56:01

    I loved my week long stay in NC–golfing Pinehurst and driving around the eastern part of the state. My grandniece is a junior at High Point. Enjoyed this wee travelogue. Why is it called the Tarheel State?


    • kanzensakura
      Apr 20, 2018 @ 20:24:28

      Pinehurst is lovely for golfers. The Tarheel State….with all of the pine trees in NC, there is a high production of turpentine and pine tar. During the War of Northern Agression, the other rebs said that the men from NC never retreated and ran, mainly because they would put the tar on their boots and stay stuck on the front lines. Thus, Tar Heels.

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  5. Vivian Zems
    Apr 20, 2018 @ 19:45:01

    A heart-filled walkthrough. “Scents laying us to rest”…ties it in beautifully.


  6. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Apr 20, 2018 @ 20:01:49

    A sheer delight to read. I especially loved “the air smelling like cured tobacco and honeysuckle” (smell is such a powerful trigger) … but then your haiku topped that, even more redolent.


  7. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar
    Apr 21, 2018 @ 00:30:10

    Yes, I know a few of those places and it reads so tender I forgot you don’t live here anymore – but actually you do … in your heart. 🙂


  8. Kerry
    Apr 21, 2018 @ 06:46:25

    So many interesting place names – they sing off the screen.


  9. sanaarizvi
    Apr 21, 2018 @ 08:20:07

    This is wonderful to read and envision Toni 💜 especially love the haiku at the end.


  10. annell4
    Apr 21, 2018 @ 08:57:13

    I do know that smell of honeysuckle at night, so heavy you can almost feel the coffin lid close. Buried deep in my own blood red soil, feeds my heart, on desert nights. When billions of stars twinkle over head. I love that you sit on the back steps and watch the nighttime world unfold before you. Tarheel child of the South, filled with all the names of your “home.” Loved the read.


  11. Frank J. Tassone
    Apr 21, 2018 @ 10:47:24

    Reblogged this on Frank J. Tassone and commented:
    #Haiku Happenings #5: Toni’s latest #haibun for #NaPoWriMo2018!


  12. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Apr 21, 2018 @ 11:54:52

    I love how you walk down the streets of memory, the scents and the places you know… a place you know and that always exist in your heart. Some names are just etched inside.


  13. kim881
    Apr 22, 2018 @ 06:01:28

    I love the way you link the names to aromas, Toni, which appeals to my senses.I enjoyed the visit to Fint’s Place and the beach – again, great smells, right into the haiku, which is heavenly!


  14. paul scribbles
    Apr 22, 2018 @ 07:09:11

    Place names and the people who populated them worked together to create a wonderfully evocative story of your bones.


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