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A Journal of Haibun & Tanka Prose
Bob Lucky, General Editor & Ray Rasmussen, Technical Editor
January 2020 Vol. 15 No. 4

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Beate Conrad

Earthwork

Throughout the sunny summer, the mole was busy rebuilding the Alps in the front yard, and I was trying to save my flowers. But now, it was late autumn – or even winter here in the north – and our work had gradually come to a standstill.

On such a day, there was a knock on my door – which in this weather I was hardly ever willing to open – with a pounding that challenged me.

Icy the voice, so
strong fogged wetness talked
fiercely down on me,
yet three times, I said no
without a cock's crow.

Although I quickly closed the door, air had crept in with a sweetish smell and musty at the same time. It did not let me rest: Didn't I have such a flower bowl with white heath, yellow chrysanthemum, and evergreen grasses, hadn't I just been offered to buy one like this? Even the same arrangement – hadn't I placed it on my family's grave?

Sleeping, I turned and turned in my bed, and I kept sensing that sweet musty odor, while ravens with pointed hats and cartilaginous claws, seemed to carry all their belongings on a walker, warning with their throaty caws to carry chrysanthemums to the cities of the dead during these quiet days, yes, to bear witness of our memory.

their faces
sunken to runes
no longer readable
yet speaking
of that happiness

That same night, I got up and turned as many resting places as I possibly could into a sea of candles. Late in the day, as I returned home, almost missing its light in the front yard on fresh hills.


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