Archives for category: Haibun

Ever Again

I remember the trail going down through a cool shaded swath of green woods. Cars are parked in a small lot, too small, for the many cars jockeying for space. It’s in the middle of the day usually it’s not as cramped. Everyone thinks it’s their secret spot. Very, very, green in myriad shades. It’s been raining a lot, fresh and clean with a loamy smell. There’s a steep incline but not very long. My breathing is bellow-deep and covers the soft murmuring song of the stream on its way over the ferns and the stones to the beach on the bay at the end of the trail. The surf rolling on the pebble strewn beach grows louder with every step of descent. Mingling sounds of the stream and the bay and the wind in the trees sharpen my sense and deepen my mood to a quiet beneath all the sound, on the path and in my mind. It’s as if they are singing a song composed for me. I stop with each step listening between each breath for the lyric.

Murmuring breeze
Tumbling stream
Tread of steps on the trail

I can hear the blood flowing in my own ears and the sounds of my breath and the tingle of
sweat evaporating on my skin. A curious sensation enters my mind. Are the sounds of my body and the woods and the trail and the stream mingling, merging into one? That’s how feels. Am I losing myself? I’m not afraid but calm and clear, lucid, as pure as the purest water and air. As I take each one of the log steps, that are on the steepest part of the trail, the sound of my boots on the gravel and the leaves joins the mysterious song of the stream and the surf and the wood and wind into what feels like a fading into an opaque dissolve in a French foreign film, as I descend.

Crescendo sounds
Water washing up on stones
Wind weaving through trees

The words of a saint I have written on a crumpled piece of paper in my pocket read many times folded again and again, the paper worn see-through thin, that speak of this dissolving, leap into reality from the depth of silence beneath. Instead of words, the smell of the earth, the sound of the stream, wind and surf wash over me like I am a salt doll in the tide. She, whose hand I held on the trail and the other hikers we had passed wouldn’t notice that I had disappeared and would not be back ever again.

Water is singing
Wind is whispering
Silence

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It had been many years since he had trekked a really
tough trail, backpacked up a steep difficult switchback.
As a young man he had been dauntless, forged in the fire
of long, cold, deer hunts with his dad when it wasn’t for fun,
when they really needed some venison for the year.
He had not forgotten the struggle for air at high altitude,
the really crisp icy air of a sharply indrawn breath and the
the feeling of triumph that came with cresting a high pass
and pausing to take it all in, hands on knees reaching for a breath
and straightening and rising, gaze meeting the horizon.

The sky and the clouds
And the wind
Are a lazy kind of loom

A last trip in honor of his father, planned to cover as many
wilderness areas as possible over that all too brief summer,
the first realization of the fragility and impermanence of life.
He first tasted the reality of death at sixteen when his mother
had died suddenly during a routine surgery.

The body is merely a robe
A tangled knot
Unraveling with ease

Now he was an old man unable to do anything of the sort,
betrayed by a body that was fading, the same as theirs.
Newly recovered from an extensive and death defying,
major surgery, he had to drive to the top of the pass and gaze
from the parking area on the side of the road.

Clouds evaporate in the sun
What was covered is revealed
Bright blue endless sky