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Volume 36.2
Summer 2005

 

sample haibun

 

Parchment

A train whistle blows through the hollows as we cross a ridge above the river. Here the Mississippi shoulders two seemingly different countries as it divides the high, steep bluffs near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, from the low floodplains of southern Illinois. The river’s sheer immensity dominates the view, a shimmering blue giant with footprints the size of states. The surrounding winter forest on the Missouri side is a mirror image of Appalachia with its oaks, tulip poplars, and beech. Enormous vines spiral up the trunks of the tallest trees. Bursting out of the loess perhaps lifetimes ago, these frozen anacondas have turned to the color of burnt stone.

feeling it in the teeth
a long cold drink
of lengthening shadow

American beech leaves flicker amid the cold, sunlit spaces. Pale and brittle, they tremble with the slightest breeze, restive guardians of the drowsy forest. With the look and feel of old paper, they are the parchment on which the treaties and hardships of the southeastern tribes would be written as the Choctaw, Chicasaw, Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek nations were marched through these hills in the winter of 1838.

Eclipsing all living memory, each haunted stone guards its share of an unwieldy truth that like a breath leaving the body, is all that remains. Between icy gusts of wind rising off the river, our retreating footsteps make the only sounds.

many worlds,
one silenc—
the Five Great Nations


by Gary LeBel

 

She finally tells us what they did to her, drunk on wine tonight, in a room filled with loving friends she still barely trusts, the toughest woman I have ever seen breaks into tiny choking sobs that sound eerily like victorious laughter.

backyard diaper change—
mother brushes a spider
from her baby’s thigh


by Michael Meyerhofer

 

 

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