Haibun


A few days ago, a good friend introduced me to Haibun poetry. Haibun has its origins in Japan where haiku also comes from. I confess, even after writing haiku for a few years now, and even publishing a haiku book, I have never heard of Haibun. I must be kind of sheltered, I guess. So I looked into it and I find it fascinating. There are some loose rules to writing haibun, and here is a link to an article about it. Here is another link with guidelines for writing haibun.

After a few attempts, I came up with this:

An Off Spring

On a stone step, in front of the green painted wooden door of an ancient crofters cottage sit a pair of old, worn work boots flecked with brown dirt. Irish brogue voices drifting from an open window framed with shutters of the same color, reflect the somber mood within. An elderly woman speaks of the garden, her voice parched with age, telling a young boy that the planting has gone badly. With the earth as dry as dust she suggests they may not have a good harvest in the autumn. With an “aye” here and there, the boy’s voice, reminiscent of many long forgotten summers agrees, but tells the woman to be patient, a rare quality in one so young. Suddenly, the door creaks open and the old woman appears, gray hair tied in a bun with fly-away wisps at her temples. The smell of a peat fire drifts outward into the air. Deliberately lifting each foot slowly, she places them into the old, cracked leather boots as a car drives by on the road, the occupant tooting its horn. Lifting her hand in greeting she tells the boy over her shoulder, to take money from the jar and walk to the village for some eggs, the last of which they had for breakfast. As she reaches for her hoe, the boy, red haired and blue eyed, now in the doorway, looks across the open fields. Dark clouds with sheets of rain above the mountains to the west, move toward them. The woman’s boots clump on the flagstones of the walk, laid down years ago by her long dead husband, as she moves for a closer look. As the first rain drops fall, they turn their faces to the sky, feeling the warm wetness trickle down their cheeks and praise the gods of wind and rain for their good fortune.

in darkness they wait
placed by old and caring hands
to sprout into life

I showed it to my friend and she liked it. I’m always interested in learning something new so I’m grateful for the opportunity she gave me. Haibun, from what I’ve learned is a combination of prose and poetry. The prose part should be very descriptive; telling a story or presenting an idea in such a way that the reader can really see what the writer is saying. You can see the cottage, and smell the peat fire. (If you’ve never smelled burning peat, you’re in for a real treat.) The haiku portion usually comes after the prose and should have something to do with the story line in the prose section. It can sum up what was said, or add to it, directly or vaguely. Haibun can be a single paragraph with one haiku or two or more paragraphs with a haiku between each. I broke a rule of haiku here by implying that seeds wait. Seeds cannot wait but hey, Western haiku, right? So this is my first attempt at haibun and I had fun with it so I think I’ll try some more.

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