dVerse Poetics Tuesday: Summit in Sight

Lynn is visiting at dVerse today and is the guest prompter. She has given as a prompt, mountains – whether the mountains in nature or a personal climbing of some kind of emotional mountain. I hope you will visit us and read some of what I know will be incredible poems. I am doing a longer, travelogue form of Haibun for this. The title of the post is “Summit in Sight”. http://dversepoets.com/2016/03/29/poetics-summit-in-sight/


free public domain image - New River Gorge

free public domain image – New River Gorge

o snail
climb Mount Fuji
but slowly – slowly
” Issa

Crayola Mountains
At the tail end of winter, I had to take a journey across the Cumberland Mountains to be with my mom who was not doing well. I began the long drive with trepidation and grief. The greys, sepias, and black-green of the bare foliage and pine trees of the mountains told the tale of winter. Several mountains were locked in with fog – warning lights blinking, cars moving at just below 10 MPH for safety. Drizzles intermittently were an inconvenient annoyance; not enough wet for full blown wiper usage but too much not to sometimes use the wipers to clear my view. Stops and a brief lunch at a rest stop caused shivers and fast walking to the rest building and back to the car. Several times I grew drowsy and had to use those wintry winds to awaken me and push the tiredness from my body and soul. The looming mountains through which the highway was carved overwhelmed me and I felt so very small inching my way across them, like Issa’s snail.

The journey home was with a lighter heart because of the time spent with my mother and being hugged and held by her, remembered by her, being told how loved I was. As I climbed higher into the mountains I noticed the colors. Why, spring has come! On the mountainsides, scattered among the dull winter colors I noticed bits of tender green and the white of blooming white pear trees. In a few spots, the orchid colored blooms of the redbud tree jumped out and shouted Spring! At the bottom of the mountains, in low lying damp areas, bright yellow green willows were beginning to put forth leaves. Amazingly, on the steep, sharply inclined sides, sheep and lambs, cattle and calves precariously grazed on young grass. I wondered how they grazed without rolling down the mountainsides. Between the mountains in one pasture, I smiled to see sheep, cattle, horses all grazing with democratic amiability. I was also able to glimpse in passing, surviving old farm plantings or animal-sown clumps of daffodils sprouting bright sunny yellow between the dark green leaves.

Crossing several times over the broad New River, I could see the sides of the mountains – rounded boulders of peach, gold, white rock molded by time and the river. I remembered the New River hasn’t been new since its formation in the Paleozoic era as part of the Pottsville group. Like the rocks through which the highway had been cut – by dynamite and man – the river color was layerings of black, deep grey, slate…striations from when the earth moved and the veins of rock pushed upward. Blue skies – periwinkle, cornflower, baby blue – stretched around me and I could see in every direction – the cloudless skies unmarred by buildings or clouds. In some places, winter dead kudzu stretched over the rocks – ragged and dirty colored as Miss Havisham’s bridal veil. In some of the green pastures, outcroppings of white rocks, like jagged white teeth, gleamed in the yellow sun. A few days after I returned home, I sat at my desk and dumped out my deluxe box of crayons and began lifting from the pile, the colors of my journey back home. Pondering over the colors, there was one color I could not find. Thinking of my mother, the only crayon missing was the one labelled Love.

spring comes suddenly
in the mountains – the fog lifts –
colors are now growing

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Haibun: Rice Planting

Part of my life journey, part of a travel journal. As a devoted follower of Basho and Japanese poetic forms, at one time, I undertook a journey to not only travel in France and Tuscany to renew my love of food and cooking, I also travelled to Japan to follow the journey of Basho in his “Narrow Road” – the precursor to haibun. He wrote paragraphs of a day’s travel followed by a haiku. Thus, haibun came into being. A haibun in its best form is an extended haiku which include seasons (kigo), a cutting section (kireji), aware (uh-wah-ray) – delicate sense of melancholy at the passing of things, and the amazing Oh! or as we non-Japanese say, an Aha moment. I hope you enjoy. I am linking to Poets United Poetry Pantry.  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2016/02/poetry-pantry-291.html  This is also being linked to dVerse Poets Pub, Haibun Monday.  Our guest Prompter today is Rajani (thotpurge) who wants us to write a travel haibun in the manner of Basho.  http://dversepoets.com/2016/02/29/haibun-monday-8/

Rice Planting
All journeys may begin with a single footstep but, sometimes that first step is taken because of madness, bitterness, the hope of regaining that which was lost, or renewing a love now gone sour. I stepped away from being a successful executive chef to find again my lost love – food. An exacting lover but one that changes for the better in all the seasons of the year, in all the places of the world. Oddly enough, also the lover who taught me more about writing haiku – classic, real, genuine haiku. The lover who instilled in me a deeper sense of poetry and beautiful discipline – not a tightly constrained discipline, but one that flowed with the world around me. In my burned out madness, I truly believed I could win back this lover. My journey began with stepping on the plane to Tokyo.

It was spring – spring in Japan when the cherry blossoms were merely reddish-brown buds ripe with the promise of a blooming spring. I had arranged a trip that would allow me to follow in the footsteps of my beloved and revered Basho. I arrived at Sukagawa during rice planting season – this time of early spring. Workers were standing in the water planting rice – sometimes in total silence, at other times bits of song reached my ears accompanied by the song of birds. The rich smell of water and mud surrounded me. The air was cool and the distant mountains seemed to make the air even cooler. My guide asked if I wanted to speak to some of the workers. I said that in addition, could I be shown how to plant rice and to be allowed to share in the labor? He hesitated but after money pressed into his hand, he spoke to the supervisor who put me with a group of older, more experienced rice planters – small women with wrinkled faces and tough, surprisingly delicate hands. The guide stood on the side of the field as I rolled up my pants and took off my shoes. The women looked at me with bland faces – hiding thoughts – rich white woman wants to play in the mud – but courteously allowed me to stand by them and then, at my smiles and insistent gestures, showed me how to plant rice.

I followed them on that journey of bending, digging, lightly pressing plants into the mud and when they judged I would not ruin the crop, left me alone to my work beside them. Sometimes I would look around me at the field, the other workers, an early blooming pear tree on the hillside and then bend again. At noon, they stepped onto the side of the field and began to eat a brief meal, while standing. I was gladdened when they began to share out their simple meals with me – balls of steamed rice wrapped in black seaweed, bits of fish, sliced cucumbers and apples and with fingers pressed to lips for silence, sips of sake. Motions from the women told me the rice I was eating came from this field. I looked at the rice ball and felt tears sliding down my face. In my hand, I held once again that lover I had thought I would never find again. Before I left the field that day, I gifted my Nikes, a bracelet, some American coins, a head scarf. Paltry items in return for what they had given me. I was on the way to being sane and whole again, taking the first step to rediscover my soul and reunite with my true love.

pear blooms on hillside –
cold spring day with meal of rice
and fish – rice field waits.

public domain image

public domain image

dVerse Poetics Pub: Follow the Clouds

This is linked to dVerse Poetics. We have been asked to write octets and some have chosen to write about the theme, of the road or travel. Some have written different forms of eight line poetry and different journeys.

public domain image

public domain image

Once a wizard from another
Universe told me:  accept your
Death as a given – you will be
Freed from fear of dying, freed from
Fear of living. Pull your sword and
Step forward. Step onto the road
And don’t look back. Follow the clouds
As they race in the sky. Live free.

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