Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 1, March 2010

Glenn G. Coats
Prospect, Virginia, USA


Borrowed Angels

The McVickers were the first ones. I played with their twin children in a sandbox behind one of the small houses on Lawrence Street. Clothes snapped on lines and dogs barked as we dug roads and planned farms in the soft sand. My parents gave permission and the McVickers brought me to Sunday School along with their own children. We cut out figures from paper, pasted them on popsicle sticks, gave them voices as we acted out stories the teacher taught us. One Sunday, I brought home a real flower for my mother.

the bowing of heads
water behind the shoulders
of Jesus

A few years passed and we moved to Nassau Avenue where all the houses looked alike. We played ball in the field beside American Smelting and explored the woods that started at the end of our street. My Aunt Katherine lived a few blocks away and she brought me each week to her church. The Lutheran Church was on Park Avenue and it looked new with its modern design and roof like no other that I had seen. I attended classes there for one year. The teacher made me a shepherd in the Christmas program and I had to stand still like a statue and not say a word.

late winter night
the psalm
breaks into pieces

The last house we moved to was on Valley View Drive. I made friends with the Harris family down the street. There were five children and a grandfather living with Mr. and Mrs. Harris. There was laundry drying in their basement and a large vegetable garden in the backyard. At Christmas time, relatives came to their house and they all sang together. I would go with them once in a while to the Methodist Church on Main Street. The minister was old with a head of thick white hair. During the service, he asked all the children to come forward and sit around him as he told them a story. I was too old by then to step forward but I loved his stories about Mary and Joseph, the way his eyes lifted at times to the ceiling, and afterwards there was singing; the Harris family sang loudly. I picked up a hymnal, flipped to the right page, and sang softly so no one could hear.

Palm Sunday
light and darkness flashing
in the pines






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