Haibun: The Grey

Haibun Monday at dVerse.  Bjorn is our host and enjoins us to think of grey.

The Grey
I am a porch sitter from ‘way back. I sit on the steps of our back porch in all weathers and watch the night. The last full moon was bright. The light changed the world into shades from ash to argent – trees were blacker shapes against the black starry sky and the lawn was palest silver. An old photograph it looked to be. I walked around the yard clothed in grey – the dark grey shrubs, the light silver of dried grass, the middle tones of my skin. The whole world had been transformed into grey by the magic of the moonlight.

I went back to the steps and sat. The frost glittered in the moonlight like faceted hematite. Stretching out under the moon like a grey tabby cat, the lawn flexed and flowed down to the woods. As I watched this silent grey night, from the old potting shed came a small black and white cat followed by two young kittens. I held my breath and watched them go the plate where I had earlier placed food. They didn’t notice me at all, silent and still. I watched as they ate their fill and then returned to the potting shed. A bit later, a red fox crossed the yard at a trot, intent upon his own business looking neither to the right or left of him. The grey holds so many secrets. I get to watch them all unfold – like an old silent movie. When dawn began to come, the world was transformed into lighter grey – everything the same color. I stood up stiffly and went back into the house to awake my husband for work. The inside of the house was warm. The lace curtains in the bedroom changed into a solid sheet of grey, the patterns of the lace growing together. My husband’s face was still and calm, deep into sleep. I gently touched him to awaken him. In the grey pre-dawn, he pulled the quilt over his head and went back to sleep.
grey of winter night –
the moon changes all the dross
into purest silver

stock photo

Haibun: Snow Day


Haibun: Snow Day

Yesterday it snowed. Not a momentous occasion for you folks who live up North but it was for us who live down South. The last few winters have in fact been unusually snowy and cold for us. The past three weeks, the temperature hovered around 18F both day and night. Brutal cold. But…yesterday it snowed. The state department where my husband works was closed for the day due to the weather. After several weeks of extreme cold, frozen pipes, and a chore to go anywhere or do anything, my husband and I decided to play. We needed it.

We built a blanket fortress in the living room. This room is usually silent but today, it rang with laughter. We used heavy books to anchor the blankets. A quilt on the floor completed our fortress. Breakfast was oatmeal with fresh blueberries (on sale for some reason at the local Aldi’s). We ate sitting on the floor and looking at the snow outside our huge picture window. Board games was the order of the day. After beating him several times at Parcheesi and Dominoes, he switched us to Monopoly. Before we started, I fixed us a lunch of grilled cheese and bacon sammies and for dessert, a fruit cup. The fruit cup was divine made with grapes, blueberries, and sliced pear and drenched in a simple syrup to which I had added lime zest and juice. We took a nap. We plotted the downfall of Trump. We finished our game of Monopoly which I finally lost on purpose because to be honest, I was tired of it. I read him a story (The Three Bears) and we took another nap.

Outside it was snowing hard and cold. Inside, it was warm and laughter rang out. I had left the fort at one point to feed the birds and to put out food for the stray cats. A day without news, TV, or other stresses. We were kids again, best friends against the world and its woes. He went back to work today. I miss him.

fortress of blankets –
us against the world – snow falls –
we play at being kids

copyright kanzensakura

Hatsu yuki – First Snow: Ryoanji

I am posting on Real Toads Tuesday Platform.

 

Hatsuyuki – First Snow
Midnight.  I walk to the trees at the verge of the woods. I can see against the rough black bark where bits of snow have settled into the crevices of the bark – like exotic plants on the steep side of the cliff. I touch the snow with my lips – soft cold against rough and then melting. I bow my head against the tree – I murmur 侘寂 wabi-sabi.

The stillness, the snow, the silence.   I am no longer here but there – years past on the viewing platform at *Ryoanji. On the wall sit hundreds of suzume – sparrows.  Like me, they are watching the rocks in the 枯山水, karesansui. Feathers fluffed against the cold, tiny bright eyes seeing all. The air becomes sweet and before the suzume begin to flutter, I know…snow. I feel them on my face before I see the flakes and soon, they stick to the gravel, to the moss around the base of the rocks. The birds flutter off to more sheltered spaces but a few stay for the crumbs the humans leave behind.

Ryoanji and hatsuyuki. I stay until the moss is white and the ***suzume have all left. Straight down and fast, the snow falls. I stand and bow the long, deep bow of deepest respect. As I leave, it comes together for me – mujo – impermance, wabi sabi – the beauty of imperfection, mono no aware – the deep sadness at the passing of things – the snow that falls, the snow that melts, the birds that fly away…and the rocks that stay behind.

snow falls – white **sho-ru –
silence drifts to cover rocks –
peaceful dragon sleeps

* Peaceful Dragon
**shawl
***sparrows

dVerse: Haibun Monday

Today is Haibun Monday over at dVerse. Frank is asking us to write about Pleasant Surprises. We are being inundated with #Me Too stories. Good! I published my #Me Too story for Real Toads last week. This week headlines caused me to write this haibun. Coming along in the 70’s was rough for women in the food business, unless you were wrote about society dinners, recipes, and that sort of thing. Working towards chefdom was hard and sexually grueling. It has gotten a lot better now. We will see how the culinary world reacts towards older women going after their chef recertification. I think the world is changing for the better in that respect. I’m going for my recertification in the spring. I am 66 years old and can still lug huge pots and weild sharp knives with the best of them!

Old School Chefs
Today I was perusing USA Today online. I was pleasantly surprised to see that chef Mario Batali was “stepping down” and stepping away from various functions as owner, CEO, host, and Food Network star due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Of course he apologized for all his badness. He will be back in a few months with his dignity intact and his money still flowing. The women he groped and made sexual innuendos towards will not be as lucky. Many of them lost jobs or quit due to his “misconduct”.  My first food related job (https://kanzensakura.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/me-too/) I walked away from due to the extreme misconduct of one of the owners.

As a woman, coming up in the kitchen business was hard, tough, and often times sexually insulting. I was groped, pushed into corners, comments made…the whole gamut while I was working for my culinary degree and ultimately, my reign as head chef in various restaurants. Eventually I walked away from all of it to finish my engineering degrees. I had comments made towards me then but not as badly as the male dominated food scene. While working on my engineering degrees, I did food styling work and food photography for one of the greatest newspapers in this country to pay for my education. I was not harassed or groped while working for that paper. I was treated with respect. A first pleasant surprise! But women still have to work three times as hard as men to prove themselves.

my knife chops quickly –
outside snow falls – another
man has fallen – I smile

Haibun Monday: Owls

Today the theme for Haibun Monday is owls. Victoria is hosting the Pub with this lovely winter kigo for haiku. A haibun is brief true prose ending with a haiku – haiku must have a seasonal word to be a haiku. Come visit us to read these haibun about owls. the Japanese word for snowy owl is fukaroo. This is also being posted at Real Toads Tuesday Platform.

Owls at night
I sit on the steps of our back porch. The night is cold and still and a light snow is falling. I pull the quilt tighter around me and gaze out at the snow slowly covering the lawn. From the woods I hear a sound that is like a woman screaming – a tiny screech owl. For something so small it can emit a scream from that sounds like it comes from the pits of despair. The owl screams again. I look up at the dark sky, the stars blacked out by clouds. As I look up, a deeper black slowly glides across the sky – an owl. Probably the screech owl or the saw whet owl I found earlier in autumn living in the woods. There are several owls around here – you can spot them at night or their nesting places during the day if you are observant and very quiet. There is even a ghostly barn owl taking advantage of an old deserted barn. Owls. I love owls. I can sit all night and watch them hunt – hearing their clucking or wild cries as they find and capture prey. The screech owl screams again. The snow continues to fall.

in the cold night owls
split the darkness with their
ghostly glide – snow falls

public domain photo

Quadrille Monday: Free

I have written a haibun for dVerse Poets Pub Monday’s  quadrille. A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words (excluding the title) which uses the prompted word. In this case the word is “free”.  Come and join in the fun.

Everywhere Blue – (for De)
Oh! To be a cloud in the sky floating lazily or waves in a cerulean lake washing upon the shore . High mountains topped with snow standing guard and smiling.

clouds in autumn blue
sky drifting free – waves below
laughing like children

Lake Tahoe – public domain photo.

Real Toads: I wrote you a book

Today at Real Toads we are to write a poem to a book – a book of poetry or a collection of poems. I have chosen one of the five most influential books to me – Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North.  It was a birthday gift to me from my beloved and revered friend and tutor.  This is the book which introduces us all to the haibun – prose ending with a haiku.  Basho’s haibun were originally travel sketches.  I have traveled Basho’s route several times at different times of the year.  I wrote my first haibun when I was 14.  I have a written a haibun to it, in the spirit of the book. I am also linking this to Poets United Poetry Pantry: http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2017/09/poetry-pantry-370.html

The Beginning
It was November, two days before my 12th birthday. Jamie Pollard, our lifelong next door neighbor who had started my love of Japanese poetic forms and especially haiku, gave me an old ragged copy of Road to the North by Basho. He had carried the copy with him several times to Japan. He said, I want you to read this. It will introduce you to the haibun. I think you will enjoy writing them. I opened the book in awe touching the pages tenderly and then hugged Jamie. My road was opened to me. I have traveled it all my life.

snow was falling – you
were given to me – a
gift still loved today

public domain image from Road to the North

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