Claypole, Lincolnshire, England
Notes on "one show one drawing only"
Having composed over 500 haibun, many, like this, illustrated, I selected "one shoe one drawing only" with no angst that I can recall, but it did leave me wondering why. Many are roundly criticised for not fitting increasingly agreed parameters produced, seemingly without much in the way of serious questioning of understanding of possible and appropriate haibun form and style, i.e., language appropriateness to content and any underlying intentions. This haibun is narrative weighted, more than most others, and contains undertones or unmentioned 'annexe' stories.
A young girl, orphaned when very young, wakes to find her granny replacement mother has died in a chair seemed built around her ancient shapes, frozen in an about-to-stand-up position. The room is strewn with paper for which there appears to be no surface or implied explanation. The girl cannot remember her mother, even her lips, source of wetness, language, tenderness. She cannot contemplate negative emotions any more than she can contemplate masculinity. There is no mention of a male of either positives or negatives. This is about females, of growing up lacking appropriate information.
Grannymum gives nothing away. Maybe she is genuinely ignorant or just being protective. We never find out. Nor will she who wants to fill her knowledge gaps. She wants her past incorporated into her present, the lineage of at least the female half of her DNA, but knows her mother only from one of her shoes, and a drawing by her mother of that shoe, given to her by her grandmother, curiously, on different birthdays. From these she has to build the architectonics of a non-existent mother. The grandmother gives no clues, except her mother's fear that blood would not be forthcoming if she ever needed a transfusion. In the end it seems she did not. We never find out, despite the nameless granddaughter believing her grandmother knows many answers to her questions.
It is a nearly emotionless tale of loss, factual and creative imagination, loss of a gender and what the future holds for one symbol of what it is to be female and develop an artistic femininity—curiosity combined with a taking-for-granted acceptance, self-containment, development of creative imagination that changes but remains under-developed, being externally prepared while not questioning how she can continue to live in that environment beyond planned tears and the factual information.
Unsaid but not to be forgotten is the sex of the author!
one shoe one drawing only
day of greys
long ago yesterday
all black and white
Stand in a paper-strewn room in a corner of which is an upholstered chair martyred by changing shapes of my grannymum. In one hand hold a shoe, in my other mothers' drawing of that shoe. Through a window see gently swaying apple, plum, witch hazel, walnut and willow trees. Can almost smell sweet scent of crab apples. Stare into cracked, mottled green covers of fallen walnuts that, even at this special time, still hide what's within.
surrounded by wind
Grannymum is dead. "Found her sitting in that twisted chair as if she were about to stand up. Only she weren't. Only she doesn't." That is what I'll tell them. Will say "My mum was dead before I can remember even her lips. Now my mum's mum is dead," "Yes, yer were very young when yer mother slipped into another time. But don't fret, don't worry, granny is here. Granny loves you. Granny'll look after you. Granny's your mummy now. Everythin's goin to be jus' fine. Everythin's dandy." And she did. And it was. She taught me to brush out her grey hair tangles, make apple crumble and piping hot casseroles and all sorts. "Why did my mummy slip into another time when I was too young to remember even her lips, grannymum?" Grannymum's eyes glisten with seeping wet, brushed away with an inadequate finger. "I don' know, darlin'. I jus' don't know." Watch her mouth set. She never does tell, no matter I ask her times and times and times. Know she knows.
Seventh birthday. Gives me a shoe. "Belongs to yer mummy." "Where's other one?" Grannymum stares through trees into a hot day of quivering horizons and harmonies of wasp music. "I don' know, dear. Disappear. Like things do." Eight, and my present is a drawing. "Yer mummy draw it. Took 'er no time at all. Do yer know she near came a J'ovah's Witness?" "What stopped her, grannymum?" "Your mummy were scared one day she might need blood an' evryone round 'er were sayin' she can't 'ave it. Never saw her scared of much else. At 'er end it didn't much matter." Look over at her deadness. "You don't look slid over. Not 'ow I imagined it. Not like crossed over into that time you said mum slid into. Don't think I'll tell anyone. Not yet. Not 'til I tidy and wash and dress up. I'll tell them then. After I've cried. I haven't cried yet."
starts to rise
In a nearby room, on a painted floorboard, against a faded white wall, mum's shoe stands close to her black ink drawing of it. Always seems solid, it standing on a foreground that, despite irregular shapes, is flat. Sitting on a floor cushion, legs apart, I look hard at them both, as I have many times. One shoe one drawing only. See nothing
of an unfashionable shoe
First published in Simply Haiku (2008)