A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2005, vol 1 no 1

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David Cobb, UK


St. Edmund's Eve

A north wind and heavy weather. The sky black with threatened snow; air laden with the smell of bonfire smoke, seeping through ventilators of the car. Forest trees solemnised by a sudden overnight fall in temperature; dank leaves sheening yellow. On the skyline, a wind turbine flailing against the approaching storm.

out of the clouds
in desperate flight
the noonday moon

The road ahead clear no further than a very old man might throw a small stone. Behind a hearse and its accompanying limousine a line of slow moving cars, a Jag, two Fords, an impatient Porsche. After three preparatory hops, a crow hoists up from the white line on the road.

in the middle lane
more of the spines laid flat--
the hedgehog skin

Such illumination as this day offers defines against a tree the pallid outline of our first patron saint, Edmund, Martyr, King of the East Angles. Bound as a target and riddled with arrows by the heathen Dane, decapitated, head kicked into bushes several furlongs from his other remains. Took the searching monks a month to stick them all together again. That night, at my cottage, I see a film about English soldiers trying to keep the peace in Bosnia. Theirs is not the "camp" bravado of St George of the Caucasus, more the long-suffering obduracy of St Edmund of Bury, whom the dragon-slayer usurped. Soft as our native grit.

torso, this world,
struggling to bring together
its head and its heart

Note: St Edmund's Day is celebrated on 20 November

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