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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 1, March 2014


Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ginko in a Mountain Wilderness

Life would be unbearable if we made ourselves conscious of it.

—Fernando Pessoa

The loon is unmistakable by its black and white patterning. I'm sitting in a stand of black spruce at the water's edge, munching bread and cheese. He's diving, surfacing, fishing for his meal.

Forget for the moment that he's a carnivore—a hunter of the flesh of fish. He's simply a part of nature, unaware of the taking of life. Forget too that I'm a member of a species that hunts, not for sustenance, but seemingly for the thrill of killing.

Instead, focus on that cluster of pink flowers, each with a long, curved petal and two lateral lobes that resemble an elephant's trunk and ears. Amaze yourself that a tiny seed is genetically coded to produce such a marvel, that we humans have the ability to appreciate such complexity and beauty.

Forget that the plant is a parasite that obtains nutrients from other plants. After all, it doesn't intend to exploit its host. Forget too that our species has a lengthy history of parasitism through enslavement, colonialism, sexual predation, drug trafficking.

Instead, pretend to be immersed in nature where all is as it should be and that bliss will come from filling my notebook. Yes, pretend that all's well in the world, that all's well back home, that writing heals wounds.

loon's call—
the lake surface

Author's Notes

1. A ginko is a widely used method of inspiring haiku ideas from the experiences encountered on a nature walk.

2. This haibun is modeled on an idea from Stephen Dunn's poem, "At the Restaurant," in Different Hours, W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.

3. Fernando Pessoa (June 13, 1888 – November 30, 1935), a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, has been described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century. (taken from Wikipedia, Aug. 20, 2013).

4. The plant is Pedicularis groenlandica, a member of the broomrape family which is known by the common names elephant's head and elephanthead lousewort. The long stem is topped with a showy cluster of small pink flowers each of which resembles an elephant's head. It's a root parasite that obtains nutrients from the roots of other plants. (taken from Wikipedia, Aug. 20, 2013).



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