I have been floundering, excited about writing my memoirs but not happy about loosing contact with my poet friends, really, really not happy! So, what should I do? Should I write all of the time? Should I write memoir one day and poetry the next? No, for I haven’t the time. Then I came upon a solution that evolved from a thought that I had last year. Most of you know that I absolutely love Japanese forms of poetry. I was ill for more than 1/2 of last year (yes, it appears to be perennial) during which time I studied Japanese poetry, especially haiku, haiga, haibun, tanka. I committed myself to writing one haiku per day during my illness. This act was a spiritual discipline. That is part one. Secondly, the photos from my mother’s WWII scrap books are the real inspiration for this memoir. I wish to honor her work in London during the bombings. She was an awful mother and I did not like her. I came late in life to understand that her poor mothering was in great part a function of the war. For this reason I can tell you that war reaches down through the ages and effects those of new generations. I have finally concluded that this story can only be told through the lens of my own life. I say why not write it using Japanese forms of poetry? How does that sound? I think that it solves all of my problems! It sounds absolutely perfect. It is poetry to my ears. I do not think that it has been done before. The only thing that even comes close is “Walden Pond” re-done in haiku. Tell me what you think. Am I going out on a limb? And oh, one is supposed to start out with a bang, a whopper of a first sentence, or in my case a whopper of a haibun. You are meant to draw one in to your story. For those who may not know, a haibun is prose followed by a haiku. Traditionally this prose speaks of a place, a person or a scene and today memoir. A haiga is art with a haibun or haiku. the art of which I speak is photography.
I was nine years old. I walked into the employee’s cloakroom of my mother’s place of employment. I was a very little kid. I rifled through all of the coat pockets. In one pocket I found $1000. Wow! I stole it. This was 1955. I knew that I had done something really bad because of the feelings of dread in my tummy. But it was a great feeling to have some money. I went to the general store and I bought some candy. I understood the power of money at that young age. I understood it because I had none and my parents had a good bit which they did not share. It was as if we three kids were poverty stricken. Today I remember little else of this episode. I was confronted and caught by my parents. I am not sure how, but I suspect showing up at the general store with a $100 bill in a town of 500 was a dead giveaway. I cannot remember my punishment. My father remedied this situation by giving me a room in the Big Barn. We had the Big Barn and the Little Barn. The horses, the tack room, our riding ribbons, trophies and a large collection of carriages and sleighs were kept in the Big Barn. In my new room in the Big Barn filled with hay and pigeon droppings he put a small roll-top desk for my use. Perhaps this act was in recognition that everyone needed a room of one’s own. I remember nothing else about it. Years later in the 90s I spoke to my mother about it. She was mortified by these memories. Shame wove a deep, ugly and tight thread through my family. Shame is something that follows one for a lifetime unless one both changes and forgives oneself.
smoldering June heat
night cicadas loud above
gentle breeze leaves move
It takes a long time to perfect a haiku. This one was written last night and needs much reworking.
Shared with fellow poets at both: Poets United – The Poetry Pantry and dVerse’s Poetry Jam where Kelvin of Kelvin’s Poetry Blog has challenged us to use two idioms to inspire our poetry today. I have used my title and “going out on a limb”. Thank you Kelvin.