Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Contents Archives About Simply Haiku Submissions Search
Winter 2008, vol 6 no 4
 

HAIBUN
 

one shoe one drawing only
Stanley Pelter

 

1

day of soft greys
yesterday
all black and white

Stand in a paper-strewn room in a corner of which is an upholstered chair martyred by changing shapes of my grannymum. In one hand hold a shoe, in my other, mother's drawing of that shoe. Through a window see gently swaying apple, plum, witch hazel, walnut and willow trees. Can almost smell sweet scent of crab apples. Stare into cracked, mottled green covers of fallen walnuts that, even at this special time, still hide what's within.

2

garden haze
surrounded by wind
a twisted tree

Grannymum is dead. "Found her sitting in the twisted chair as if she were about to stand up. Only she weren't. Only she doesn't." That is what I'll tell them. Will say, "My mum was dead before I can remember even her lips. Now my mum's mum is dead." "Yes, yer were very young when yer mother slipped into another time. But don't fret, don't worry, granny is here. Granny loves you. Granny'll look after you. Granny's your mummy now. Everythin's goin to be jus' fine. Everythin's dandy." And she did. And it was. She taught me to brush out her grey hair tangles, make apple crumble and piping hot casseroles and all sorts. "Why did my mummy slip into another time when I was too young to remember even her lips, grannymum?" Grannymum's eyes glisten with seeping wet, brushed away with an inadequate finger. "I don' know, darlin'. I jus' don't know." Watch her mouth set. She never does tell, no matter I ask her times and times and times. Know she knows.

3

Seventh birthday. Gives me a shoe. "Belongs to yer mummy." "Where's other one?" Grannymum stares through trees into a hot day of quivering horizons and harmonies of wasp music. "I don' know, dear. Disappear. Like things do." Eight, and my present is a drawing. "Yer mummy draw it. Took 'er no time at all. Do yer know she near came a J'ovah's Witness?" "What stopped her, grannymum?" "Your mummy were scared one day she might need blood an' evryone round 'er were sayin' she can't 'ave it. Never saw her scared of much else. At 'er end it didn't much matter." Look over at her deadness. "You don't look slid over. Not 'ow I imagined it. Not like crossed over into that time you said mum slid into. Don't think I'll tell anyone. Not yet. Not 'til I tidy and wash and dress up. I'll tell them then. After I've cried. I haven't cried yet."

garden haze
starts to rise
a tree fails

4

In a nearby room, on a painted floorboard, against a faded white wall, my mother's shoe stands close to her black ink drawing of it. Always seems solid, standing on a foreground that, despite irregular shapes, is flat. Sitting on a floor cushion, I look hard at them both, as I have many times. One shoe one drawing only.

black shine
of an unfashionable shoe
lost secrets

 


Stanley Pelter Stanley Pelter was born too long ago to want to remember (1936 actually). Bombed from here to there; working class evacuee to grammar school door opener. This was followed by Wimbledon School of Art, various bits and pieces of Welsh Forestry Commission, coal mines and hospitals as conscientious objector and then the Royal College of Art. Paid various mortgages via the National Education system. He has four children, eleven grandchildren and three great great etc. He has been involved in haiku, haibun and their illustration for about twelve years. A pushed-into-a-corner non-conformist and socialist, he remains a devout atheist and offspring of an offspring of George Gurdjieff.