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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015

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Gerry Jacobson & Michelle Brock
Canberra, Capital Territory & Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia


The Art of Being

finishing the journey
looking backwards
at the path
but standing
on the threshold

Yesterday down at the gully, I found it again, my casuarina grove. It's been too long between trips down there. How many years ago did I plant it? Was that really me heaving the mattock above my head, striking clay-baked soil? Five trees survived, including the one I planted down the bank, just above the waterline. Now they're almost three times my height. Amazing how they've thrived on all those years of neglect.

When they were saplings I checked them weekly, made cages to keep the animals away, mulched them, scooped buckets of water from the gully. Then things happened— kids, work, things inside the house. I forgot about the saplings and if I did remember, I didn't have time.

Funny how life goes on without you. All around the block there are remnants of my failed projects— the irrigation line to the orchard where the trees died one by one, the rockery overgrown with weeds, the tattered plastic greenhouse for all the plants I never propagated. One life's not enough for all these dreams.

Down at the gully with the sun on my back, I started thinking. I could clear away a few bits and pieces, get rid of the wire cages and make a seat from that old railway sleeper. Then perhaps for the next few years I could come down here and write.

on the shale slope
a rock orchid in full bloom—
I stumble upon
an impromptu lesson
in the art of being

I sit here squinting. The sun breaks through the clouds of a wintry day. Warm on my face. Sip water. I'm tired. Two hours on the bike this morning. Uphill to yoga class, then the downhill run to Civic, then around the lake to Kingston. Office workers finishing lunch. Waitress brings me a flat white. I sit and scribble. I love pavement cafes . . . OMG, I'm quoting myself. Outside a cafe called Bitter Sweet.

Where am I going with this writing? That chapbook on Red Hill is stalled. I have the tanka and some illustrations. But the artist has absconded and I don't have the energy to chase her up. Also I've published tanka prose pieces in journals, and my favourite editor suggests I put together a collection. But I can't get started. Time relentless, rushes past and takes me by surprise.

sinking
into the present moment . . .
embedded
in golden autumn . . .
who will dig me out?


Editor's Note: The opening tanka, "finishing the journey," was first published in Haibun Today 7:1 (March 2013).

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