That House on Oxford: Haibun

Not a ghost, but the emanation of some past emotion. That’s what I feel in that house in Havertown—the one my mother rented after my parents divorced. Have you noticed that some houses have their own emotional atmosphere? Well, that’s my theory, and if you’ve never felt a house reeking of love, terror, or despair, then it must sound weird to you. But this whole house makes me feel welcomed; my bedroom in particular—it’s as if someone has felt joy there in the past, and the feeling now lingers. . .forever. This room, painted a golden yellow, seems to glow all the time. Every molecule in its walls, floors—even the air—releases joy and serenity—at least for me. Here I also experience first love. I wonder if my feelings will join the room’s aura, biding there for future inhabitants.

thrush sings amid buds,

trees flower, and then leaves fall—

echoes hang in air

Dock Street Creek once flowed here.



This Haibun is for dVerse, where Lillian has asked us to write a traditional Haibun—that is, a tight paragraph or two, which is a true account, not fiction, followed by a traditional haiku. The haiku should be nature-based but allude to the prose. It should have a seasonal word, and “a haiku must have two parts including a shift, an added insight. Japanese poets include a KIREJI (cutting word). BUT there’s no linguistic equivalent in the English language therefore punctuation creates the cut: a dash, comma, an ellipsis, an exclamation point. Sometimes it’s simply felt in the pacing or reading.”

Lillian has asked us to write about one of the first houses we lived in. This was not the first, but it was the first one we lived in after we moved from Dallas to Havertown, PA, when I was in 7th Grade.


This is also for Colleen’s Tuesday Tanka, using synonyms for the words beliefs and strange. I’ve used theory and weird in my prose. Colleen notes that a Haibun should be written as though it is happening now.







47 thoughts on “That House on Oxford: Haibun

  1. This is a superb Haibun with a traditional Haiku to follow. This is one of your best, Merril. I love the descriptions of the house and your room. The Haiku alludes back to your prose in the most magical way: “echoes hang in air…” I’m enchanted. ❤

    • Thanks, Björn. I think my mom took the house because it was available and in the location she wanted. The house she bought after that actually had a room that was more of refuge for me because it was in the attic.

  2. I love your haibuns, Merril, and this one is wonderful. I do think some houses put off vibrations of their past. How lovely it is to step into one that is welcoming in the way that you describe. 🙂

  3. Oh….I’m finishing up my reading of haibuns and so glad to come across yours. I wish you could be sitting here with me…to have heard my very audible “ohhhhhhh” after reading the last words of your beautiful traditional haiku and your entire haibun. This is just lovely.
    I love those added details, “golden yellow” seeming to “glow” – it is just the added detail that brings the room into a physicality for us. And oh yes….I think it would be wonderful to have a room maintain the joy and love that it experiences….sort of like our words and mood affecting another person, it affects the walls and floor of rooms! The imagery and sound – kigo and kireji in the traditional haiku are beautifully achieved. Just a fabulous job with the prompt! Thanks so so much for posting!

  4. YES, I’ve always found a personality in each house I’ve resided in. This one of yours (or I should say your mom’s) sounds like a beautiful soul. Or, as if it was inhabited by beautiful souls, indeed.

  5. This is very enjoyable. When you started with a reference to ghosts I was expecting something quite different to this joyous piece.

  6. Pingback: Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge, “Belief & Strange,” No. 94 Recap, #SynonymsOnly – Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

  7. Pingback: Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge, “Belief & Strange,” No. 94 Recap, #SynonymsOnly | Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

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