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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 1, March 2013

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Barbara Robidoux
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.


On Elizabeth Kudlacz's "Cape Neddick, Maine"

In "Cape Neddick, Maine," Elizabeth Kudlacz places us at the edge of the sea. Having lived in coastal Maine for 25 years before moving to the high desert I understand this place. "Cliffside" is a precarious place where one false move could mean one's demise.

She offers the ashes of a loved one to the sea but it is the wind that "tangles" her hair and catches the falling ashes. Downwind an observer watches and perhaps is showered with ash as well. In the haiku:

scent of salt
in a room full of white
chrysanthemums

we are led to believe that the sea permeates even this house of death.

In the closing paragraph "the clutch of loved ones tightens" in the face of death and life looms precious. The mourners turn away and the sound of the sea "the incessant crash of waves" permeates all sound. Even the noise of car engines starting and doors slamming cannot be heard. It is the sound of the sea that prevails.

In the closing haiku:

Nor'easter, and light—
house beam pulses:
red, red red

A Nor'easter rolls in and we are left with the "red, red, red" of our lives.


Cape Neddick, Maine

A brisk November morning. Cliffside, a small group of strangers has gathered across from the lighthouse. The woman clutching her thick brown coat walks to the edge, stands above the churning sea. Wind tangles her hair, snatches the ashes from her offering hand. Standing downwind, I pause.

scent of salt
in a room full of white
chrysanthemums

As last ash is cast, the clutch of loved ones tightens—releases. One by one each turns away. I hear neither car doors close nor engines start, only the incessant crash of waves.

Nor'easter, and light—
house beam pulses:
red, red, red.

First published in Haibun Today 6:3 September 2012.

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