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

Volume 12, Number 3, September 2018

Adelaide Shaw on Mary Ahearn's "Lament"

Lament, by Mary Frederick Ahearn, the first haibun in the issue, was the one I kept thinking about the most. I share the sadness and longing evident in Mary’s writing. Each paragraph affected me for different reasons.

Several years ago, a few months after moving to a new home we drove past our former one. Something was missing. The magnificent sugar maple that grew in the back was gone. It was October, and the golden leaves of that tree would have glowed and would have been noticed driving toward the house. I was heartsick about the loss of such beauty. We didn’t drive that way again. I hadn’t thought about that tree for years, but the same emotions returned as I read Mary’s haibun.

The second paragraph also tugged at my emotions, and more strongly. My husband recently passed away. A bitter, cold early spring it was with winter still holding its grip. I felt frozen, along with the land. Mary Ahearn has expressed my grief and loneliness. This is the power of haibun, the power of writing from the heart.

~ Adelaide Shaw

Mary Frederick Ahearn
Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA


"The winging bird longs for the old woods, the fish in the pond thinks of the deeps it once knew."
—T'ao Ch'ien

I've stopped driving by the old house, our home for near forty years. Even now, when the first ephemerals emerge and the oak buds swell there, I stay away. You didn't want to see it anymore, you had told me. You were, again, the wiser of the two of us, the more private with your yearnings, your beliefs. And your fears too, even into those last days, those sleepless nights until almost the end, that bitter end. Just a phrase once, the bitter end…

pine branches
scrape the window
shadows fall across the bed

It's been the coldest spring in years, late snow, sleet, day after day of gray skies—winter's refusal to depart, forever the season of your passing.… My heart burns dry with winter's ice.

early days
they say
every day a Jahrzeit

Notes: Epigraph from T'ao Ch'ien (365-427), trans. Burton Watson, The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the 13th c.



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