Bronze Age arrowhead
the forest grows
Bronze Age arrowhead
the forest grows
Published in Stardust #18:
whisper a heron
Haibun story published in Scryptic 1.2
That spring in Kyoto, few people had heard of the word retrovirus or knew what it meant. As the sakura zensen (cherry blossom front) reached the old capital, hanami (blossom picnics) took place as usual. Couples and families gathered beneath the trees, spreading out their blankets to share food and sake as they have done for centuries. Stories and laughter fell from open mouths as the blossom drifted around them.
The first cases seemed little more than an allergic reaction. Patients were admitted to the university hospital with mild breathing difficulties after being in close proximity to flowering trees, but these resolved quickly in the emergency room with the administration of a little oxygen and some reassuring words.
In the days following, a small trickle of patients became a flood, and consultants from the Ear, Nose and Throat department found themselves being called to the ER with increasing regularity. More and more patients were admitted for overnight stays to stabilise their breathing, and a general warning was released to the population of the city that cherry blossom viewing was now considered something you should do at your own risk, with breathing masks advised as a caution.
Overnight, Maruyama Park, and other traditional places for hanami became deserted. The rest of Kyoto settled into a sombre silence quite unlike any other spring in recorded memory.
One week after the first signs, 23-year-old Yuko Konomi became patient zero, the first fatality from what was now being called Sakura yamai (Cherry blossom disease). Her parents stood by her bedside as doctors desperately tried to revive her, unwilling to give up while any hope remained. Eventually, even they resigned themselves to the inevitability of such a young death.
As Yuko’s face turned white, a single pale pink blossom appeared from between her lips.
No one said a word.
Very happy to be awarded first prize in the My Haiku Pond Academy quicky contest for World Haiku Day 2018. Even more lovely were the generous comments by both judges Eric Lohmann and Michael Smeer:
each flower in turn
(to give credit where it is due, an improvement of robin song to robinsong was suggested by Jan Benson after previous work by Brendon Kent and Alan Summers)
Eric: From the outset, this haiku reminds me of the best that I’ve read in haiku journals – an intense focus on what is beautiful in the natural world and on the gracefulness and complementarity of natural processes. Personally, it calls to mind the oft-quoted lines from Longfellow, “Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, blossomed the lovely stars – the forget-me-nots of angels.” Maybe I’m getting a little rhapsodic but this ku has a subtle and yet powerful emotional effect. The addition of “robinsong” instead of the original “robin song”, as suggested by Jan Benson and borrowed from Brendon Kent, on line 3 only adds to this power. Do flowers really open sequentially in response to the singing of a robin? Doubtful – but we are given a strong series of images, some stated and some implied, that allow the reader to stand in the author’s place and experience the scene not only as the author may have done but also with their own imagined details. This is the best of what haiku can do in just a few words. Thank you, Andy.
Michael: I can be very brief about this submission. Absolutely superb! I agree with Eric that this title warrants publication in a leading haiku publication.
we each take turns
to be the moon
(Blithe Spirit 28(1))
weaving my life