Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 4, December 2011

Tish Davis
Dublin, Ohio, USA


Olly Olly Oxen Free

How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night?

—Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Through the still air, I hear my brother's call, the change in direction and the stretched out vowels. Now a new phrase drifts across the broad, untilled field.

"You're the last one. . ."

But I wait. I'm hiding behind a stack of railroad ties alongside the neighbor's barn. I wait until he, finishing his bloody deed, dumps the unused parts into a bucket.

a spider's tug,
the stare of oxeye daisies,
a white rabbit
hung by his hind leg
above the hock

By the time I emerge from the waist-high weeds, our home base is bathed in sunlight. My brother and one of my cousins hurriedly drag the flattened box into the shade leaving behind a brown sheet of fluted fiberboard. The board, with its perfect roofs and parallel roads, seems lost in the long dark grass. I run back and fetch it. It becomes my base, under me now, as I share the story in the shifting light.

A clang interrupts the tale. My father, kneeling on the nearby patio, is using a crowbar to open the lid to the cistern. An uncle passes the flashlight. Our new circle quickly becomes a line. We're told that the boys will wash the tank; the girls will walk to town and buy the clack valve.

a snippet
of caution, on the road
marking the way
back to the city

a pinch of sulfur,
a teaspoon of reddish-brown
well water—
for the Kool-Aid,
painted smiles

Everyone sleeps over. When the house is quiet, we girls change into dark colors then loosen the ruffled skirt holding back one of the bed's plastic wheels. The bed begins to roll. It sails along the sagging floorboards, passing the unpacked boxes, before tumbling down a deep hole.

the passage, rabbits
in a moonlit garden
and stolen wire cutters . . .
changed in the night


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