A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2007, vol 3 no 3

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Judson Evans


Letters from the Village of Liars

By morning, everything must be torn apart and started over. It begins with the water tower. I walk the perimeter, let perception loosen and wander, slink over the range of stimuli, then take account, allow a focus. It could start anywhere. A single catch phrase, a frayed closure, an open patch I purposely refuse to back-butter with the trowel of dailyness, one loose thread yanked clean and I'm left again an empty page

leaf stuck mushroom
tearing itself apart
to unfold

All day out exploring in widening parabolas from the tower. The moss makes its own erratic paths between stones stained with tie-dye patterns of blackberry bird shit. Mushrooms press up under leaves, disrupt the forest floor, making room, wearing camouflage, drafts of cool air closer to the swamp, the flat stones hold their skin of moisture

abandoned barracks
the fence electrified
by locusts

At the top of the steep trail, a dead tree draped over rocks, powdery red innards, iron rich, and what remains of the lichen covered body, splayed, disarticulated, so fully penetrated, it is no longer matter but a set of probabilities, fearless unraveling of form...

hollowed by rot
a fallen birch

After several hours, I realize we've ended miles from the trail head. We backtrack and circle, and I see now what I haven't told you yet, haven't explained: this is the basic condition here. Always two choices: stand in place or to enter the circling and persist until the critical moment for an opening, the way certain seeds must burn to germinate, or flowers need eclipse to bloom, or closer to this sense of space, those puzzle boxes built by fine Japanese craftsmen that bear in incised circles the pattern of a constellation Cassiopia or the Great bear that must be perfectly aligned before a compass is engaged inside turns a lever, and opens the box.

We circle back, exhausted, the dog laying down twice and forcing me to rest, my face streaming with sweat that won't even let the biting flies get a purchase, and then, finally, back to the fence again, and when we circle it, this time not stopping at the water's false trail but winding three quarters turn around the compass and the door opens. We find our way back.