Haibun Today
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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 3, September 2011



Claire Everett
Darlington, Durham, England

 

While the Light Holds

a new school dress
with hook-and-eye fastenings
handstitched in the night . . .
the seams of family life
my mother kept intact

I never knew my grandmother, yet her gap-toothed smile has graced my daughter's face and her hand-me-down phrases, button to button, hold fast our days. A clap of thunder and I can't fail to see her walking a jagged path to sit with the neighbour afraid of storms. Her soft shadow falls on my mother's favourite childhood tales.

the child who stitched
without a thread
in needlework class
still too shy to ask for
what she needs

The knowledge that birth-pangs are only the beginning forms an unspoken bond between us—the daughter lost in The Blitz, the son in juvenile correction, the infant who died. The things of which we rarely speak are carried with us, passed down, handled with care, like locks of hair, pillowed in tissue. My grandmother's loss is my mother's, is mine.

what my mother knows
of her older sister . . .
a moth-eaten bonnet
perfect for her doll,
my grandmother's tears

end

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