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A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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Archive: Contents of American Haibun & Haiga Volume 1

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Tom Clausen

In the Woods

In 1962 when I was eleven I fancied myself to be a Last of the Mohicans, Huckleberry Finn, outback wilderness child, and had chosen the name "Wonapsa" to inspire and fulfill the fantasies I played out in the woods and gorges behind our house. The woods contained the world I loved, both real and imaginary. I would spy on rabbits, chipmunks, and woodpeckers. Sometimes I would sit as still as I could to see what being a ghost was all about. I layed on the ground, smelling the dirt and embracing a patch of earth just my size. I would climb trees listening to the wind sigh in the boughs and learn the creak that comes from deep in trees. The woods were filled with secrets I wanted to know.

sun after rain--
the garter snake fresh
from its skin

In the spring it was momentous to find mayapples and hepaticas and know new life arises from the litter and wreckage of winters' leaving. One day while scampering up and down steep slopes in random search for tiny skulls, feathers, fossils, or a special perch to sit awhile, I peeked over a ridge top to see a man and a woman lying out on a ledge a way below me. What they were doing I had roughly heard about but never seen. The trees between me and them were few but a bit of guilt kept me from a steady stare. I became aware of the unlikeliness of what I was witnessing and felt an exhilaration of discovery. To see their flesh while they kept some clothes on filled me with curiosity. I do not re- member a distinct conclusion, my memory choosing to focus on the unison of their movements.

That night my heart and mind recreated it all over and over. What images I had seen. How purely animal and natural they were. How unexpected and free a view I had.

Years go by and that ledge is still there. My walks in the woods these days sometimes pass that place. I always look a little and remember. I've never seen anyone else there.

barren woods--
a clump of wild onion
scents the air

 


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