A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2005, vol 1 no 3

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Katherine Cudney


I didn't understand why I lived where I did, but I eventually accepted the reality of it. For fifteen years it wasn't so much the being there as it was the coming and going. The regular stay-over visits with my mother, who lived with her parents, kept the wound fresh. It was more than the weight of my suitcase that I carried down the stairs when it was time to leave again. Grandpa would get up from his green recliner. Smile as he asked the same question he always asked. "Heading back to school?" In my mind I answered, "It's not a school, it's an ORPHANAGE, ORPHANAGE, OR-PHAN-AGE. Where they put kids with no moms or dads. Where they put kids nobody wants." Why did he never call it what it was? Why didn't he let me live at his house? Plenty of room and I wouldn't be any trouble. But I knew better than to ask. I made that mistake once and was told to be grateful I didn't live on the street. Bit my tongue and accepted the parting gift that he pressed into my palm. A quarter, warm from having been in his hand, like he'd been holding it for a while, just waiting for me to leave. No hugs, no kisses, no tears allowed.

Today, at his wake, I slipped a quarter into his casket.

Casting stones
The silt whirls and settles
On my toes


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