from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

'in the time of no time' (haibun)

As light relief from the more cerebral content of my recent posts, I thought I'd give you a haibun. There's lots to say about this form; it's one I like very much, and use quite frequently.

A haibun is a kind of prose poem that sits at the threshold of many aspects of writing: it uses the heightened compressed language of poetry in a prose form, while combining journal-writing and philosophical commentary among other things, if desired.

A characteristic is the incorporation of little haiku-like poems.

As far as I know, the earliest haibun we are aware of is the long extended Narrow Journey to the Deep North of Basho, dated (from memory) to the C17th. The whole text is one long haibun.

This one, below, comes from my collection Bardo. (This is a collection of mainly prose poems.) Once again, I offer occasional workshops on the haibun form; notably under the 'Zen and Poetry' label (click here).

In the Time of No Time
The bead curtain of the rain at the door’s threshold, the way rain’s contours soften the winter hills and trees. Beyond, mist snags in the teasels. Sheep bells fill the valley like a river.

Later the boar, hearing us, fled. I thought it was the windrush in the canopy of last year’s leaves. Caught the last glimpse of their hurtle through the oakwood, five of them, hairy, snorting.

You walk ahead; you are essentially solitary, a mountain man.The cairn I make for you, on this your birthday, balanced on the ridge at the end of the ride, limen between here and there, now and then, may last, may fall.

You ask me what it means. I can’t say. To mark a place and a moment, maybe. A gift, an offering, a celebration, small precarious monument to precarious early –

An orientation?

To see the path, you need first to squint through the hole in the top stone, close-up, then step back and let it rise towards first your eyes and then your feet.

On the limestone brow

los tres peyres in low sun

dance their slow stone dance.

The cycles of it all. We move between speech and silence, between intimacy and the less permeable space we each inhabit, on our own.

Later I will think of the cairn, its stillness, how it consists of moss and stone grown so close they’ve become integral, yet each retains its own essential nature.

Your hands are in my hair. Sunset lights up the far hill for a brief instant.

We begin the walk 

back down in bosky gloaming
towards the future.

© Roselle Angwin 2005 


Between now and December 20th I'm offering a discount of £5 on the total cost if you buy any two of these books: Bardo, All the Missing Names of Love (poetry), Imago (novel), The Burning Ground (novel) direct from me. (I'll only charge one lot of p&p.) There are ways to contact me on this blog and my websites, or go direct to Paypal and find my name.

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