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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 3, September 2018
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Gerry Jacobson on Marcyn Del Clements’ "Dream of the Old Dads"

The climbers’ bus drops me off somewhere in north Wales. It’s 4 am and the youth hostel doesn’t open till 9. So I walk into the heather and crawl under a rock for a few hours. I am 17 years old and work in a London office to earn money in order to climb at weekends. The weekly bus full of climbers leaves Baker Street after work each Friday, and drives through the night to Wales.

Where will I sleep tonight? I’ve faced Marcyn’s question hundreds of times. I love her descriptions of ‘the black night salted with stars’ and ‘where ragged hills muscle down behind me’. She knows this mountain range, the Old Dad Mountains. For me it’s some sort of dreamland. What are arroyos and bighorn sheep? But I feel at home out there in the world she evokes. I know the feeling of snuggling in beneath cliffs. Well, years of field work in the Australian desert; and bivouacs in the mountains.

Where will I sleep tonight? One of the questions I ask every day while walking the Camino. Part of the essential pilgrim experience: where will today’s walk take me, who will I meet, where will I sleep?

Where will I sleep tonight? How lucky we are that choose to sleep out, to be close to nature, to enjoy the starry nights. There are lots of homeless people in my home town who are not so lucky, who have no choice. I stumble over their sleeping bags in the bushes, and in the shop doorways.

I love the white space between the prose and the tanka, wondering what’s to come. In Marcyn’s piece I’m in a sleeping bag out there waiting for Sirius, the ‘eye of the Dog’, the brightest star in the heavens. Where I live in Canberra, the Dog (Canis Major) is overhead in the summer evening sky. We are upside down here in Oz.

just before
this frosty dawn
Orion
rises in the east
summer will surely come again


Gerry Jacobson lives in a Canberra suburb. He has been writing tanka daily for ten years and enjoys the challenges of tanka prose. Perhaps an occasional haibun. He loves how these short forms enable him to write about his experiences, memories, and feelings.


Marcyn Del Clements

Dream of the Old Dads

They drop me off in the Old Dad Mountains. Widowed and orphaned. I walk out into the flat desert night, lugging my suitcase and my bedroll. Where will I sleep tonight? The black night salted with stars. I turn my face to the west; I’ll sleep here where ragged hills muscle down behind me. Rick and I used to go here, where spring streams trickle down into vernal pools and the black swallowtail nectars on sand verbena. Where bighorn sheep kick rocks out that rumble down into the arroyos behind us. Here I shake out my bag and snuggle in beneath the cliffs of the Old Dads.

Orion steadily
moves westward
I search
for the Dog Star
before I can sleep

 

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