haibun
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2006, vol 2 no 1

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Adelaide B. Shaw

Seasons of War

Church in the early morning; a stop at the bakery for fresh rolls; hopscotch in front of the house . The beginning of an ordinary Sunday in our New England town.

December cold
rippling through the neighborhood
news of Pearl Harbor

Within weeks our lives change. No butter, no meat, no short wave radio.

Seasons blend one into the other. In the spring, my uncle leaves for the army, his whereabouts a continuous worry. Each day the wait for his letter, and when it comes, unable to read any meaning between censored words.

the neighbor's lilacs—
a teasing hint of fragrance
on the breeze

At night, surprise black-outs. Listening in the dark to the block warden's footsteps approach and fade away.

the windows open—
supper by moonlight
until the all clear

My mother works now. The swing shift at the mill, weaving olive drab and khaki.

rain in the air—
raking leaves with Grandpa
after school

As the months and years pass we develop new games. No more playing cowboys and Indians. We become army nurses, bomber pilots, soldiers with machine guns.

snowballs fly—
everyone wants to be
on the winning side

At home, the talk is often heavy with long pauses. Frequent mention of "my brother in Naples, the cousins in Sicily." Our prayers are longer. A sameness settles in; even war has a familiar routine. Another bond drive; a new scrap drive. Nothing wasted and everything saved; make-do and make over. "It's the war" becomes the explanation for everything.

Victory Garden—
more buggy tomatoes
on the ground