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

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Ray Rasmussen, Canada


The Bamboo Rake

A warm spring sun, the fields finally free of snow. Yellow warblers, freshly arrived from places south, sing from the just budding trees and shrubs.

An old man works a small patch of ground with a bamboo rake. He's short, stocky, brown-skinned and has the eyes of the orient. He wipes sweat from his brow, glances up at me and then swings his eyes towards a second rake.

I drape my coat on a wooden fence and begin to work. The rake's pliant tines allow me to clear winter's debris without damaging the plants beneath. He stoops from time to time and places his hands above the green shoots. I stoop and do the same, but feel nothing.

He shakes his head, then tugs my shirtsleeve and leads me to a nearby field—to a bloom of white flowers, to the fragrance of violets, the hum of bees. He tugs again and leads me to a beehive, dips in a twig and offers a taste. Sweetness explodes in my mouth.

On our return to the unfinished field, we once again stoop and place our hands over the ground, welcoming the plants into the world of sun and air.

We finish the field and he turns to me and bows. Awkwardly, I return the bow and reluctantly, I hand him my rake.

spring sun—
cedar waxwings fill
the leafless plum

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