If a Deer Runs in a Forest

It’s just past sunrise when I see him. I wonder why he’s there alone, the little deer. I wonder if he’s one of the twins, I saw lying in the grass a day or two before. His light brown coat blends into the woods so well that I almost missed him. We both stopped walking. His ears twitch, and I see him sniffing the air. I take one step, and he takes one step. Finally—though I want to stay– I walk on, as quietly as I can. I feel like I’m disturbing his peace, though the sight of him has made my day. Later, when I see a group of deer resting together, I wonder if he’s there amongst them, with his family and friends. I wonder if they missed him when he was off on his own, and if they are all happy to be together again.

 

fawn loses his spots,

russet leaves fall to the ground–

time passes unheard

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This is for dVerse’s Haibun Monday, where qbit/Randall is the guest pub tender. He asks us to write about one member or element of a group. So, I guess that little deer made a big impression on me. I’m also linking to Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, where it’s open prompt words or “poet’s choice.”

Once

Monday Morning Musings:

“Falling slowly, sing your melody

I’ll sing it loud”

From “Falling Slowly,” Once,

Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Once. . . I woke in darkness. Then the sun rose golden through rose-tinged clouds. The air was cool but clear. The world shifted and tilted. Dreams rose from the misted woods.

morning moon whispered

softly, praise touched red-gold leaves

geese honked overhead

Morning Moon

If you look carefully, there’s the morning moon.

chevron rises up

earth cycles, river to land,

the tide ebbs and flows

Geese at Red Bank Battlefield Park, NJ

We take a train into the city. We walk over sun-bright cobblestones, passing tourists who stroll and chat in a variety of languages. We wait on corners as wide city buses try to turn onto narrow streets. We enter a theater. Seats surround a center stage area covered with Oriental rugs. Musicians are playing Irish songs of the past and present. I bop in my seat to “Brown Eyed Girl” and tap my feet to a jig. Last call for the bar. The lights go down, and magic begins.

man meets a woman

music flows, drifts from their souls,

they’re falling slowly

 

together in tune

Dublin days strummed in rhythm–

piano echoes

 

musicians rebound

music from aisles and walkways

crowd smiles and applauds

We walk and talk. Watch the lowering sun shine through cloud-dappled sky. Red bricks glow. In Washington Square, a young girl whispers her secrets to a tree. Does it answer?

music of nature

city sounds form the chorus

we dine al fresco

Again. . .

We dine al fresco

wine and pizza in sunshine

a dog rests in joy

Nightfall comes too soon,

moon rises to hum goodnight—

cats slumber and dream

 

Sleeping Cat

Once. . .September was full of rain. The world was full of anger and sorrow and lies. But once, September ended in a perfect weekend of sunny days and cooler nights–falling slowly into October.

 

We saw the  musical Once at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. It was a performance full of warmth and spirit, wonderfully staged. Here they are rehearsing “Falling Slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grounded, but Ready to Soar

We lie on our backs on the wide green expanse between dorms. Soon we’ll be starting classes here–a future scary, uncertain, and suffused with what ifs. We’re filled with the ardor and fire of youth. But in this moment, we’re still and content, bodies grounded, yet spirits soaring as we watch the feathered clouds fly across the late summer sky. They’re blown by a wild wind miles above us. My boyfriend points out some constellations–the Big Dipper, Orion. I make a wish and send it sailing into the night.

River of heaven,

flowing light in ink-blue sea

carries dreams onward

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This Haibun is for Frank’s Haikai challenge, using Milky Way (amanogawa), which he notes is an early autumn kigo. He says “the literal translation of amanogawa is ‘river of heaven.’”

And for Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for vigor and energy.

And for dVerse’s Open Link night, where Mish is hosting.

 

 

 

 

Before and Now

Monday Morning Musings:

“It may be the luckiest and purest thing of all to see time sharpen to a single point. To feel the world rise up and shake you hard, insisting that you rise up, too somehow. Some way.”

–Paula McClain, Love and Ruin

“We can never go back to before”

Lynn Ahrens and Steve Flaherty, “Back to Before,” Ragtime

 Once we had two maple trees in front of our house. They provided shade for our house and shelter for wildlife. But they were diseased and had to be cut down. The birds and squirrels have moved on. We will plant daffodils around the stumps, and life will continue, though we can never go back to before.

green leaves turn golden,

sun sings grey skies blue again,

flowers smile hello

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Once people saw tyranny and began to rebel with acts of resistance against their government and king. Time sharpened to a single point for some then. They felt the need to rise up. They launched a revolution that was bloody and horrible, as all wars are, that divided families and friends.

sweethearts say goodbye

leaves sigh and fall from the trees–

red blood on white snow

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Old Pine Street Church Graveyard, Philadelphia

 

But it was also a revolution of words and actions that created a new nation, the first written constitutions, and gave some hope for freedom and equality to all—though that did not come about till after another war and new laws. We harken back to before, but we can never go back.

And why would we want to?

demagogue appeals

blames “The Other” for problems–

false hopes and false words

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Wishing on the wood of the last Liberty Tree.  Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia

Azure skies send us

outdoors to eat–a plus

seated where we gaze

at history and listen

to the foreign phrase

of people who pass by

and wonder why

they’re here, but know

they come and go–

in this city of hope and despair

filled with travelers

and immigrants,

rising like the nation and the sun

on the famous chair.

 

 

We watch a movie,

the wife behind the great man,

though she’s really greater than

he is,

she says she is “a kingmaker,”

but more than that—

this is

a nuanced performance

that show the complexity

of relationships—

which is

the basis of government, too,

and I think of the before

when we had a king

and bid him adieu

and now the one

who longs to be king

daily sings

(so unbirdlike he tweets

never soft and never sweet)

Will we let the kingmakers

let it happen?

Well, as the foot-tapping

musical notes, “history has its

eyes on you.”

It is complex,

and perhaps what we need

is a nuanced performance.

Though the choice seems simple—

do what you need to do.

Do not believe the lies.

Do not support the liars.

Let’s not go back to before

when I did not have a voice,

when women did not have a choice,

when people I love could not love,

when people I admire could not vote—

keep this sinking ship afloat.

I feel time sharpening and shadows gather.

 

 

But ask the star

how it dazzles and

kisses air with joy—

We are prisoners of time,

embrace its rhythm

and smile.

 

Once there were two maple trees, but now they are gone. . .

yet life goes on.

 

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We visited the Museum of the American Revolution. Saw the movie, The Wife. Trailer here.

Here is Marin Mazzie, who died last week, singing, “Back to Before.”

 

Sweet Inventions from Chaos Comes

Monday Morning Musings:

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos,”

–Mary Shelley, introduction to Frankenstein (1831)

“We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.”

–Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from an interview with journalist Lynn Sherr

 

It is the night before Rosh Hashanah, but even so, we gather together at the table, old and young, to celebrate the holiday. We miss sisters and others who are not with us, but we also enjoy the extra room to spread out. And isn’t that the way life goes—filled with small moments of joy and sadness? We toast L’Chaim! We wish for a sweet year,and hope for the best, as we eat slices of the round challah and dip apples into amber pools of local honey.

Golden honey streams,

sweetness graces our table–

a wish for the year

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I’ve made enough food for the neighborhood (because what if there isn’t enough?). We have pumpkin soup, salad, brisket, turkey, and noodle kugel. Yes. more wine, please. My great niece and nephew tell us about the start of their school year. Our younger daughter talks about her new students. We discuss truckers, nursing (my son-in-law’s future career), long hours, unions, and pay. My husband and I have recently watched the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we all share our admiration for her, Notorious RBG. We all wish her a long, healthy life and sweet year. Please stay on the court. We pass plates around, then clear the table. I pack up food for everyone to take home. (Yes, I have more challah in the freezer. I baked six loaves.)  It is time for dessert!

 

Another year comes

harvest moon follows bright sun

green leaves change overnight

 

We walk through wet city streets. Rain and more rain. But still, I find rainbows.

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Thirteenth and Locust, Philadelphia

 

We see a play. Four black men in—where? An afterlife of some sort. The bardo, perhaps. The set is a white space with an incline. There’s a trap door from which they emerge. They need to remember. They need to help one another. They need to make this place a home, a safe space. The playwright says his “guiding principles as a writer” are to “be wild and precise.” The play is both. It is full of physical movement—demanding of the actors who run, tumble, and even dance. There is humor and despair, but this play could only be about black men. “I was eight, when I learned I was scary,” says one. “I can’t breathe,” says another. There’s a toy gun. Games reflect the truth. We watch, as though behind a police interrogation mirror. They see us, but we only watch, never do anything.

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rhythmic breaths, out, in,

times’ losses and gains balanced–

some truths heal, or not

 

It is still raining. We walk and talk. A mural depicts people of many races gathered together–eating and drinking.

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Philadephia Murals, Spruce Street

 

It is hopeful. We go inside, sip wine and beer. Discuss the play.

Our Italian cheese arrives with local honey. Somehow, that seems a fortuitous sign. There is sweetness in the world; there is sweetness sitting here. The sun will come out again. There is no void. The building blocks are all around us. We harbor stardust in our DNA. We can invent new lives and new worlds in our imaginations. We can create beauty and truth from chaos. Behind the clouds, the moon still hums. I fall asleep to the sound of soft cat snores beside me–and we both dream. Past and future merge.

L’shana tova,

a wish extended to all

more laughter than tears

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I’m linking this week’s musing to Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge, since he asked us to write about autumn wind, spring wind, or Rosh Hashanah.

If you like Haiku competitions, there is still time to post your haiku and comment on others on this Vita Brevis post.

Pure Haiku is also looking for submissions by September 21. More info here.

We saw Kill Move Paradise by James Ijames at the Wilma Theater.

 

Colors of the Morning: Haibun

It is dark now when I wake. Fall is coming, though the air is still summer-steamy. The moon winks good morning and good-bye, in a sky that has turned from midnight blue to indigo. I watch as the sun, heralded by streaks of peach-tinged clouds, slowly rises, and the sky fades to bleached denim. A blue jay screams as he tries to land in the kitchen window bird feeder. He swoops and tries again, then heads back to the trees to tell of his adventures. I drink my coffee as the cats take their morning nap. Rosh Hashanah comes early this year. Soon—despite the heat—I’ll be baking loaves of round challah and simmering a pot of golden pumpkin soup for the new year.

 

lush green leaves and grass

harbor blue birds and brown squirrels—

one red-gold leaf falls

 

 

This Haibun is for dVerse, where Mish asked us to write about morning, and also for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. For this 100th challenge, she left the words to us!

Time and Timeless

Monday Morning Musings:

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”

–Milan Kundera

Art and music travel through our genes, stopping at some destinations longer than at others, like the train our older daughter takes from Washington, D.C. after visiting archives at the Smithsonian. She takes hundreds of photos of sketch books, correspondence, diaries, and newspaper clippings of our artist ancestor, Abraham Hankins. She shows me newspaper articles—how his mapmaking skills saved his life in France during WWI because he was left behind to draw maps when the rest of his unit was sent into battle and killed. He also trained as a singer, until gassed during the war, and apparently, he wrote some poetry, too. But my daughter becomes even more fascinated by his French wife Estelle, called Esther by my family. After Abe’s death, Estelle makes it her mission to get her late husband’s work into major museums. There is still much to learn, and most of the people who lived then are gone. It is my mom’s ninety-sixth birthday.

 

skipping stones hit pond

concentric circles ripple

spring turns to summer

Abraham P. Hankins,
Pocket Full of Dreams,
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Bequest of Mrs. Abraham Peter Hankins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate my mom’s birthday in sunshine with shades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

munch on snacks, laughter cascades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as we discuss pets and art and politics

with eyes rolling—intermixed–

as my niece describes her “other family,” with their alternate truth—

if only we could blame it on the folly of youth—

but salacious tales about the Clinton’s gleaned from right-wing memes,

treasure troves of garbage carried by the false fact streams

they insist it’s true,

what does one do?

We move on to sandwiches and cake

blow out the candles, make

each moment count, and we laugh, dance, and sing—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it’s in our genes, so let’s bring

it on in celebration of familial love

rock the ghosts from rafters above

and around, perhaps they watch from some place–

that shadow there, across your face.

 

The weekend is full with movies, puppies, and wine

we dance, laugh, eat, drink—feeling fine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mom tells us that Abe asked her mother to sing with him at a family gathering. She says her mother had a beautiful voice, but that my uncle, my mom’s baby brother, cried when their mother sang, so she stopped singing. I had forgotten, she says, but now I remember some of those songs she taught me. Songs of the shtetl that crossed the ocean. We, the grandchildren never learned the songs. I like to think though that no song is ever lost. Each note rises. Birds carry some, and others float high into the sky filling the clouds. I think that is why I hear music in the rain, and why rainbows sing, and the moon hums. We are filled with star music, and it returns again and again to us. Music flits like spindrift from the waves of time.

 

Stars sail ink-black seas,

cat against me softly snores,

dreams dance to moon song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crickets: Darkness and Light: Haibun

The hot weather breaks for a bit. I open a window and hear the crickets chirping, searching for love in the darkness. Do they sense the future? Do they know that the nights will soon grow longer and colder? Autumn with its lengthening shadows always makes me feel wistful and a touch melancholy.

Darkness seems to be growing like a massive thundercloud shadowing the earth, and the shadow creatures are climbing from their murky lairs. Yet after every storm, I search for a rainbow. The light is always there, but we don’t always see it. The crickets chirp, even if we’re not listening. The poet pens a verse, even if no one reads it.

 

opaque skies glower

Harvest moon, hidden, still hums–

vixen cocks her head

 

I saw this story about a rainbow.

This Haibun is for dVerse, where Victoria asked to use cricket (in Japanese Koorogi) as a prompt.

I’m also linking this to Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for sad and write.

Flowing and Flown: Haibun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four years ago, our older daughter married. I look at photos of that day—her and her wife, my husband and I, our guests—all of us bound by affection for these two women. On their anniversary day, I have lunch with dear friends. They were at the wedding, too. As our children have grown, we’ve now attended many weddings together. We eat, sharing stories and talking in the way old friends who are comfortable with one another do. We were all young when we met, beginning married life, beginning careers. From the restaurant window, I see the Delaware River flowing as it has for centuries, but not without change. It, too, has seen joy and sorrow come and go, and still it flows on.

 

New buds burst open,

butterflies savor sweetness–

spider weaves her web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Haibun is for Colleen’s Tuesday Tanka Challenge. Colleen asked us to use synonyms for love and time. I’ve tried to create the overall feeling of each word here.

 

 

 

Birthday Wishes: Haibun

I think of my dad today and how he admired Tony Hillerman’s novels, mysteries involving the Navajo Tribal Police. Once he wrote Mr. Hillerman a letter and received a gracious reply. It’s been twenty years now since my father died. He’d be ninety-nine today—perhaps he’d have new favorite books and authors. He was a man filled with passion—for food, women, art, history–and for his children and grandchildren. He thought we were the best and brightest, no question. Though he expected all to wait upon him–courtiers of the court of Lee–yet—he was generous with love, presents, and hundreds of restaurant meals. He was always proud of me and assigned my first book to his history classes. (Sorry). I wish my dad was still here to read my words. I love you, Dad. I miss you.

 

yellow-green stems grow

vivid blooms in summer’s heat—

then red-gold leaves fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is for open link night at dVerse, where Lillian is hosting. I’ve given a nod to National Book Lovers Day in my Haibun.