Indgenous Southern Woman

For Haibun Monday at dVerse. Frank Tassone is the prompter. He wishes us to write about indigenous – “What does Indigenous mean to you? Is it your culture? Is there a time and place that speaks to you about the Indigenous? Or is there an experience of time and place that marks it as your own indigenous moment?”

Indigenous Southern Woman
“The truth is nobody can own anything. That was an unheard-of concept among indigenous people. We invented that.”  Tom Shadyac

A few years ago, I did one of those DNA test thingies. The results did not surprise me. Being a physical anthropology major, I knew of course, physical characteristics of Native Americans, particularly those from the Southern East Coast. My little fingers are crooked. I already had the making of a chef’s hands before I started. Another physical characteristic is hidden behind the teeth, a ledge that gives the teeth a shovel appearance. An inverted breastbone is also common, a trait that leaves an indentation in the chest; it is sometimes called a “chicken breast.” All of their unique characteristics are due to genetic mutations that have been passed down through the tribe over thousands of years. Modern DNA analysis has allowed these traits to be traced and tracked and can help to identify those with Cherokee or other Native American blood.

It was discovered that I am 28% Native American including the tribes of the NC Coast: Lumbee, Sappony, Meherrin Occaneechi, Waccamaw tribes. I am also descended from very early English Settlers. They were part of the pirate contingent who raided the coast and pillaged and some of them settled here, on the NC coast, in about 1640. In fact, some of the folks on the barrier islands speak with old English accents and use their words. My family has always been watermen and farmers – and pirates. That is where I get my love of the land, the seasons, the trees from. The rest of the DNA test revealed mostly English, specifically the east coast of England. I follow the seasons, respect the earth, and try to walk gently upon it. I was taught this by my family.  We all in our family believe in the lessons the earth has to teach us.
southern woman
born of tribes and pirates
lover of the seasons

 

Haibun: Everyday Life

For Poets United Mid-week Motif – everyday life

Haibun: Everyday Life
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everyday is a day of peace. Before I retired four years ago, I grasped at the beauty on weekends like a drowning person grasped at a lifesaver, like a dying person grasps for the last look at a beloved face. I hungrily snapped up the vision of leaves, the feel of rain, the silken scarf of moonlight, the smell of French toast for breakfast. I binge cooked on the weekends making meals to feed us during the week, smells of bread and red sauce, pot roast and fried chicken, quick breads and cinnamon and ginger and onions wafting through the house. Now I walk daily – in the rain, the snow, the blistering hot sun. I visit my friend the Oak every other day and sometimes take my violin and sit in its upper branches sawing away for the birds and squirrels. Peace. A commodity more important than money to me. The quotidian details are there but now they are happily supplemented with all I had starved for before.
the autumn cool
says blessed and happy –
and the name of peace

Haibun: Hunter’s Moon

For Merrill’s Prompt at dVerse Poets Pub – a quadrille.  A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words using the prompter’s choice of words.  Today the word is “set”.

Haibun: Hunter’s Moon
“Always remember we are under the same sky, looking at the same moon.” —Maxine Lee

The sun has set and the air is cool. I watch the moon rise. It is a full hunter moon. An owl drifts overhead and I feel its passing in the air.
the moon is so bright
I can see like
a spotlight shines

Hunters Moon

Winter is Coming

A haibun for Kim’s prompt for dVerse Poets Pub.  The prompt is about insects. I love insects. A haibun is part prose, part poetry. Modern haibun are lengthy. I prefer the original form created by Basho, a more condensed version.

Winter Is Coming
“I love insects. They are amazing. ” Andrea Arnold

I climb up in my tree and listen. The insects in the woods are quiet, except for the cricket making his few chirps before the frost of winter comes to claim him for its own. A last butterfly flits among the trees, floating on the slight breeze. It is the beginning of autumn and all of the insects are going into hibernation for winter. I do not weed the milkweed away from my lawn as butterflies will build their cocoons on them.  Even the bees I keep in my hive are getting ready for winter. There is a mite infesting bee hives, Varroa, decimating the bees. I inspect the hive and carefully catch bees to inspect them. No mites. For now my bees are safe. I feed them extra sugar water and stop collecting honey so they can use it to live over the winter. The cold of winter is coming. Cicadas are burrowed down into the earth, butterflies are in their cocoons, crickets have snuck into our houses and are curled up in our closets snug for the winter, bees are sugar loading for winter.
insects are preparing
for winter – frost will soon
coat the grass

Family Kitchen

For Sherry’s prompt at Toads, Grandma’s Kitchen. I apologize for the length of this. Usually my entries are brief and to the point. But as far as food and cooking are concerned, well…

Haibun: Family Kitchen
“The kitchen is the heart of every home, for the most part. It evokes memories of your family history.” –
Debi Mazar

There was no such thing as “grandma’s kitchen”. There was simply, the kitchen. When my grandmother’s grandfather built the house, it was in the days when families lived together, multi-generational, early Victorian. We all gathered there – to eat or to take turns making meals, do homework, play cards. Vegetables from the garden were canned, jams and jellies made. We all pitched in. I remember making a meal of pancakes and bacon when I was six, standing on a chair so I could reach the stove burners. Mistakes were “hidden” in the bellies of our dogs and cats. I also stood on a chair to “help” whoever was making the meal for the night – usually my grandmother or father, sometimes my mother or grandfather. I had primo knife skills by the time I was seven.

I learned everything about what I know about food and cooking in that kitchen – and how to get along with other people in the kitchen and to stay out of other people’s way when they were preparing food or how to zip in and give a helping hand.

I also learned about poetry in that kitchen. While doing homework, my teenaged aunts would real aloud Shakespeare, Shelley, Yeats, Frost, Sandburg. It was in the kitchen that my harried grandmother went to our library and came back with my first love, the Collected Works of T.S.Eliot and handed to me to assuage my boredom as an 11 year old. The same copy permanently resides on my bedside table.
seasons change – food changes –
people change – the love remains-
memories continue

Haibun: Bee Vigliant

For the Midweek Motif over at Poets United – Vigilance

 

Haibun: Bee Vigilant
“The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.” – Saint Francis de Sales

I am being vigilant and keeping watch over my bees. There are still wild flowers about from which they can feed but, I am monitoring their hive and their comb pattern, getting ready for the cooler days of autumn and the cold days of winter. My bees are healthy and some of them are a bit drunk on early windfalls from fruit fruit trees and grape vines. Silly bees! Next month I will begin feeding them and preparing them for winter. I will be blocking off the hive to protect it from cold air and snow. Last year I only lost two bees and it was a harsh winter.

They still travel around the neighborhood and take nectar from a neighbor’s flowers or from the last blooms in the garden. I will begin collecting honey next month for personal use,  making sure I leave enough for them to feed from and weather the winter. A few jars of golden honey and some comb for me, a lot for them. I will leave fruit out along with dishes of sugar water to get them all fed and happy for the winter. I am allergic to bee stings. Go figure that I court death when I look after the bees. But without them, we would all die.
ever vigilant
I keep watch over the  bees –
they wait for spring

Haibun: The Crinoline

Quadrille Monday at dVerse. A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words sans title, using the given word for the poem. In this case, nick.

Haibun:  The Crinoline
“Children were huge, wild creatures full of promise and hope and dirt and mischief.” ― Nalini Singh, Silver Silence

My teenaged aunt was chasing me with murder in her eyes.  I had nicked her crinoline from the closet and was joyfully dancing across the yard in it.
grass stains on pink net –
the crinoline was ruined,
so was her dress for the date

 

Union Blood

cotton mill workers 1902

 

Union Blood
“Where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected.” Samuel Gompers

We were a union family – from 1900 to current. My grandmother along with her two older sisters (orphaned when the oldest was 15 and my grandmother was 10) got work in the old Erwin Cotton Mills in Durham, NC. The two sisters went to work with my grandmother looking after them until she went to work in the mill at age 12. They lived in a boarding house. Life was good though. The Erwin Mills community took care of their workers providing medical treatment and a store for the workers. They also provided housing – identical row houses along about a dozen streets, abutting the Duke University East campus. The Boarding House was a tall gothic style house along Carolina Avenue.

My father when he got out of the Army, went to work at Dan River Cotton mills in Danville Virginia. He met my mother and moved to Durham. He had his first major heart attack standing at the weaving machine. Cotton Lung Disease.  The Erwin Mills community, by then Burlington Industries, took care of him and his family. They provided his medical care and nurses and everything, at Duke University Medical Center – one of the premier medical facilities in the world. He died finally after a septupal bypass. As was the custom, the mill closed for the funeral although my father hadn’t worked for several years at the mill.

I escaped that world when I was 18, going to university where I obtained my BA, BS. MS, and PhD degrees. My aunt, another overeducated southern woman, obtained her BS, MS, PhD, and MS in Nursing and MS in Hospital Administration.  Burlington Industries paid for our education until we went into higher than BS or BA. I remember the picnics they had for the employees, the barbecues, the fish fries. At Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter every family was provided with turkeys, hams, fruit baskets, several bags of special holiday groceries. Workers worked hard but they played harder and always ate well.  Growing up in a tight mill, union community was a privilege. I am still a union believer although I haven’t worked in a union shop for many years. I will argue vehemently for the trade and industrial unions.
seasons come and go –
lungs become muddy with cotton lint –
union pays for all

Durham NC aerial view of Erwin Mills, Duke University, surrounding homes ca. 1930

Haibun: Gentle Rain

It is Quadrille Monday at dVerse and the word for the day is “tranquility” or a variant thereof. What is a quadrille? A poem, in any form, of exactly 44 words using the given word. The title is not included in the 44 words. Lillian is our host!

Haibun:  Gentle Rain
On the back porch, I nap in my rocking chair. Rain gently tippy-taps on the leaves. Tranquility abounds. The smell of rain is like a blanket. I snuggle in the scent.
gentle rain
croons a lullaby –
back and forth in the rocker

 

 

 

Haibun: My Mother’s Voice

For dVerse Poets Pub Quadrille Monday.  A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words using the assigned word.  Today De gives us the word “voice”.

 

Haibun: My Mother’s Voice
The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her. ― Anonymous

This morning I heard my mother’s voice. I had an omelet for breakfast with a fresh picked tomato on the side. The tomato was juicy and spread its juice all over the plate.
my mother’s voice
in a tomato –
tears and juices mingle

 

 

Autumn Contemplation

Autumn Contemplation
“The upper reaches here and the lower of the river – the friend for the moon.” Matsuo Basho

Meigetsu,
the harvest moon is fading –
Bright gold coin in black sky
now dims and wanes to a partial dish of cream.
Hatsu arashi – the first storm of autumn
has washed clean the sky.
aki simu – autumn is clearing,
brilliant blue,
luminous white clouds drifting, silent. peaceful.
Autumn’s voice whispers –
breeze across dry leaves on the grass,
wind in the reeds at the creek,
The little priest – the tiny cicada delicately
moves his wings, a small voice
among the raucous pine and bell crickets,
an alto to the larger cicadas
and their metallic thrum.
Shinryoo – new coolness in the air.
The coming of autumn is somnolent today.
No rise or fall,
A steady tone of almost silence.
The morning glory twines
lovingly around my plum tree
and shows her blue face,
echoing her sister,
aki no sora – the autumn sky.
The small grey tabby across the way
sits beneath an oak
watching the occasional
slow falling leaf.
Her eyes stay upward
and she does not move for she wants to see
the leaves as they float and fall around her.
An early leaf burning –
smoke wanders and its incense drifts to heaven.
my wondering heart sit entranced
in the midst of the haiku
I wish I could write.

Haibun: Peace of Mind

Lynda Lyberg is the host at dVerse Poets Pub today. She writes about how do we purify our minds? A haibun for the prompt.

Haibun: Peace of Mind
“The places of quiet are going away, the churches, the woods, the libraries. And it is only in silence we can hear the voice inside of us which gives us true peace.” ― James Rozoff

Green, fresh, and fragrant as the pines, cedars, and oaks of the forest I wander among them. I learn a lot from these trees, in this forest. Creatures and insects go about their lives without being polluted by man and his bullshit. The creek burbles at the foot of the hill and minnows swim, nipping at the water spiders that skate on the surface. I own this land and have resisted offers to sell it. No price is high enough to destroy this place of peace. When I die, the land is willed to a peace foundation. I keep my mind pure by not allowing the poison into my veins, my mind, my heart, my home. When I die, the land will not be polluted by my ashes; instead they will just be dumped into the garbage can along with the rest of the refuse. I have not done much in my life but this one thing I have done – I have kept a place for my mind to wander away from the filth of humans.
peaceful forest –
peaceful mind –
peace lives here

copyright kanzensakura

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