Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 2, June 2010

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina, USA


In the Garden

My first home is a second-floor apartment in a village near a river. For my sister and me, mom sketches and paints Jack and Jill and other nursery rhyme characters on the walls of an extra bedroom. Every birthday and Christmas, gifts arrive to fill our round circus toy chest, dark red and vinyl. Dolls come to visit my sister's metal toy house and my farm set, then rest in their basinet and wooden cribs. My sister prepares them meals on a metal kitchen set or hands them to me as I stretch out in a child-sized red armchair with footstool next to my riding fire truck until they and I fall asleep.

a light snow
all of the gravestones
becoming one

Dad drives a local school bus after working midnights as a welder, and he has to hitchhike or walk 10 miles to the factory each evening because he doesn't own a car. Mom works as a waitress at a restaurant downstairs, then gets a second-shift job making rubber hoses at another factory farther down river. She rides to work with her sister-in-law, but collapses in exhaustion one night, her first onset of multiple sclerosis.

snow flurries
names of relatives
neatly erased

On weekends, mom and dad walk my sister and me to a dairy bar around the corner for banana splits, to the barbershop next door for news and gossip, maybe to the bridge over the river near the cemetery to watch the geese and the fishermen. Nothing's much more than a walk's distance away.

whitened graveyard
the grieving stone angel
with snow-filled wings




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