< meta charset="UTF-8"> Haibun Today: A Haibun & Tanka Prose Journal

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

Volume 13, Number 4, December 2019

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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, A.C.T., Australia

The Green Line Travellers

long days
melt into each other
sweet summer
in a Stockholm park

We share the lives of two Viking princesses, getting to know the Green Line (tube) between their dwelling places. It’s a half-hour journey: the little one (Eira) lives in Södermalm, while big sister (Emilia) lives in Bromma. Lately we’ve been picking Emilia up from school, stopping nearby for an ice cream before taking her home on the train. She’s a dreamer, her nose in a book when she should be paying attention to train doors closing. But she’s not the only one.

beneath Stockholm
on a city train
a gypsy plays
a passenger dances

I pinch myself. Am I really here? In a Stockholm park listening to cries of “Pappa!" as the Little One (she’s 2 ½) gets frustrated with the slide or the climbing frame. She won’t let me help. But Pappa is immersed in his phone; well, he runs a multinational business as well as being a Scandi dad. It’s amazing how loudly she can yell with a dummy in her mouth.

bubbles float
in afternoon sunlight . . .
trying to catch
her fleeting smile
that lights up the world

Our eight-year-old Princess loves role play. Her farmor (grandmother, Rae) has infinite patience. Their game of packing a suitcase, dressing in winter clothes, getting a taxi to the airport, continues into a second day. Her farfar (that’s me, grandad) is assigned a minor part: pretending to ring for the taxi. It only stops when the little girl next door returns from holidays, so the Princess has a playmate closer to her own age.

stride past the café
full of purpose
heading for the tube
dropping kids at daycare

Gulls call. Waves lap the ice-carved rocks. We’re in an old dinghy on the island, a "play boat." The Princess presses me to row to the next island. Am I some Viking slave? “Oh no, Farfar, please row to London or Tyskland (Germany), and sing the songs of the country.” I sing the songs I remember: “Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner”; “Guten Abend, gute Nacht.” She takes this cue, plays at going to sleep on the boat, waking up again.

early morning
of northern summer . . .
she smiles, laughs
as the sun rises
on a world to come

We dine; her Mamma serves a fine rosé. The Princess allows me to address her in English, though she affects not to speak it. I present her with a leather-bound book of the poems I’ve written in her honour: a set of 100 tanka. It’s a balmy summer evening, so we go down to the shore of Lake Mälaren and swim, as her Viking ancestors did. Oh My God, am I the ancestor of Vikings? A little Jewish boy like me?

wolves lope
through Nordic forest
at sunset
we dine on
hamburgers and chips

I step off the plane into a grey Sydney dawn, light-headed from lack of sleep. Slowly dragging myself out of their world–those two little girls, their smiles and their tantrums, their beloved parents. Solveig’s song is in my head: the winter may pass and the spring disappear, but we’ll come together again. While health permits.

two princesses
play with Barbie dolls . . .
their Pappa
never ever thought
that life would come to this