Elsewhere

All the balloons that touched the ceiling now sink low enough for the children to bat them like inflatable clowns. Life retreats to the corners. Helium cheers as the guests of honor parcel out slices of layer cake, and languor suffuses the banquet hall. We might be elsewhere. If not for that punch at that office Christmas party, if not for the rhythm method, if not for my father’s insistence at my mother’s lips, joined in a drunken line. When I blink, the squealing generations vanish as if they never were.

 

reality—
fleeting as smoke
from a ring of candles


8 Responses

  1. Vicki Vogt Says:

    Beautiful writing! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Theresa C. Says:

    Excellent. The peculiarities of our lives, the momentary decisions carried forward in generations.

  3. Dianne Says:

    nicely said. I like the photo, too.

  4. Graeme Says:

    That zoom out in time is breathtaking. So many thanks.

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  6. seaviewwarrenpoint Says:

    'Life retreats to the corners' is such a striking line.

  7. haikuapprentice Says:

    Basho began his classic Narrow Road to the Deep North with a striking piece of haibun:

    "Days and months are travellers of eternity. So are the years that pass by" (trans. Yuasa)

    Basho's fame in Japanese literature derives probably more from his travel haibun than from his standalone haiku. Haibun serve as short descriptions "of a place, person or object, or a diary of a journey or other series of events in the poet's life" (cf Wikipedia). They provide a powerful contextual scenario or excerpt from a situation or scenario, to which the poet's skillful execution of an appropriate haiku serves to summarize and provide a tool of even deeper reflection.

    Angele Ellis has provided a wonderful modern interpretation of the haibun, and indeed the opening lines: "All the balloons that touched the ceiling now sink low enough for the children to bat them like inflatable clowns. Life retreats to the corners." are almost a modern retelling of a Basho reflection. Her concluding haiku would stand alone beautifully and thoughtfully, but the extended haibun, takes the reader on a journey into her own "Deep North" of family history and the inter-generational conversation, elevating it from a wistful reflection, to a deeper philosophical and existential reflection.

    Angele has reminded us all of the richer sources we can draw on in our short-form poetry, and hopefully this powerful work will encourage more poets to challenge themselves with more than a 3-line haiku, but to set it in a frame, a room, a garden, in which we can appreciate more than the breath of poetry, but stay, dwell, and breathe life itself.

    Many thanks Angele for sharing this, and to Tinywords for publishing it today.

    Strider

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