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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017

Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

On His Tanka Prose “Leylines”

I open the book at random. A haiku jumps out of its anthology and into my life. Is it a thousand years old? It is our weekly Friday Writers meeting. We are invited to scribble for ten minutes, allowing the pen to flow. So where does the "autumn tempest"of old master Sekito take me?

At that time Claire Everett was an editor of Haibun Today and encouraged my first efforts at tanka prose. She challenged me to go beyond the ‘standard’ one-paragraph-one-tanka piece. She published “Leylines’ in her own journal, Skylark, in 2013. I admire Claire’s tanka and haibun. One aspect is the frank and loving way she writes about her husband. I find it really difficult to write about my wife. I find it difficult to write about being in love. Is this a gender thing or a Gerry thing?

Rae and I married in 1965, travelled, had three children, settled in Canberra and reared them, stayed together. But we’ve never been a "Darby and Joan" couple. We’ve always focussed outwards, shared a world view, supported each other. I suppose I was "in love" at one time. Definitely "in lust" at times. But mostly we have been busy partners, parents, activists, house renovators, whatever. Now, in our seventies, we are friends who share a passion for four grandchildren and a concern for each other’s health and wellbeing.

the warmth
in my left shoulder
in silence, in stillness
her presence beside me

I was born in England, emigrated to Australia at 18. Celebrating fifty years of Oz, I decided to go back and re-visit my birth land. So, in 2008 I walked 500 miles along the St Michael and Mary leylines from Cornwall to Norfolk with a group of friends. This was the Awakening Albion walk. Exploring the energy of place. About ninety people took part, and nine of us walked the whole way. Rae didn’t come. She stayed in Australia to deal with the aftermath of her mother’s death.

The Michael and Mary leylines were defined by the dowser Hamish Miller ("The Sun and the Serpent," P. Broadhurst & H. Miller, 2006). I am a geologist by trade, not really supposed to believe in leylines without a scientific rationale. What my left brain discerned was an alignment of hilltops in SW England with varying geology, followed by a strike ridge of Chalk in middle England. Along this is the Ridgeway, a track dating back about 5000 years and perhaps Britain’s oldest road. The eastern third of our leyline walk is covered by glacial till with little indication of what’s beneath.

The high energy vortexes where the twin leylines intersect or "kiss" are often marked by stone circles or churches or other monuments. We sang and danced them. I recall how we danced in an Iron Age "hillfort" in Cornwall and the dance really took off. Did I levitate? And in many mediaeval churches along the line I felt a palpable energy, from centuries of prayer, of joy and grief.

I have been introduced to the great Ngintaka (Perentie Lizard) songline or dreaming line which runs for 800 miles across central Australia. Aboriginal dreaming lines join distinctive places roughly a day’s walk apart. These sites are celebrated with song and dance, and relate to seasonal food and water. They form an oral map and history of the tribal lands and an education for young people. I guess that in England something like this went on in hunter-gatherer (Palaeolithic) times.

of those first people
fading away
beneath our heavy
stomping boots

Gerry Jacobson


The autumn tempest:
Looking at one another
In the candlelight.
                        ~ Sekito

Sometimes she told him that she didn’t trust this relationship. Was she was right not to trust it? After all, two lives, male and female, lived in parallel. Rather like those great leylines, Michael and Mary, mystical lines of earth energy. Roughly parallel, they cross the breadth of England for five hundred miles.

my love
she walks the midnight
wearing high heels
she can’t get down

The leylines twist and intersect at great energy centres, chakras or kissing points like Glastonbury; Avebury; Bury St Edmunds. So, in those two lives, that fifty-year parallel journey, there were intersections, node points, energy centres. Wedding. Birth of Baby. Second Child. Empty Nest. Retirement. Grandchildren.

for better
for worse ... sometimes richer
often poorer
often rough ... sometimes smooth
never plain sailing

Was there one more node point to be reached? He didn’t want to think about it.

at a bus stop
day fades
stray leaves blow in the wind ...
the ache of twilight

Editor’s Note: “Leylines” was first published in Skylark, 1:2, 2013.



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