A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2008, vol 4 no 2

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Sharon Dean


Backstreet Boys

Another email from my son. He's at his father's in the city and I'm missing him terribly. He's never been away this long before.

pat, pat, pat
of a dripping tap
summer heat

"Hullo again, Mum. Forgot to tell you what else happened last night when that boy Sam from next door was here. We went exploring outside and when we were going around one of the corners, we startled someone riding a bike and he ran into the wall and fell off."

What the hell is my ex thinking? Allowing a twelve-year-old and his friend to roam the dangerous city streets after dark!

"Me and Sam went over to see if the man was all right. He got back onto the bike but his handlebars were all skewed, so I pulled them back into place. We were asking him if he was hurt anywhere, and he said he was hurt on one side of the hip and both sides of the ribs, all of his hand and fingers were sore and a few fingers were bleeding, and he said he also got hit on the head by a bar that was on the wall."

What if the man were a pedophile? Why does my ex insist on having our son for the school holidays if he's not prepared to spend time with him?

prickly vine
strangling the strangler fig

"We stayed until he cleaned himself up and he kept calling us gentlemen and saying there aren't that many people in the world like us. We said thanks, and the man wanted to give us a bit of money for helping, but his wallet had been stolen at the chemist and he was really upset. Me and Sam ran back to the chemist to check if the wallet was still there but it wasn't. We walked with the man as far as Dad's place and he was telling me that he had a thirty-year-old son who looks just like me."

I suppose you can't shelter your children from the world forever. How are they meant to have adventures with their mates if they're under constant parental supervision?

scent of rain
the old scribbly gum
sheds its bark

I reach the final passages of Ashlin's message.

"When we went to go inside, we heard the man answering his phone. He was talking to his son and crying while he told him that his wallet with all of his ID, money and photos had been stolen.
Pretty interesting, hey. Good to talk to you, hope you are feeling well and I miss you lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots!
Your loving son, Ashlin."

Have I ever been prouder of my boy? I've watched him air the spine at the local skate park, spar his way to victory at martial arts tournaments and play the piano like a mini-maestro, but there's nothing more important than being kind. I'm grateful to my son for telling me about his experiences in the city. That man on the bike had indeed been having a shitty day, but I'm sure he would've felt worse if two young boys hadn't expressed concern and offered him a helping hand.

Feeling suddenly grateful to my ex for creating a rare geographical distance between Ashlin and myself, I type a return email.

"Dear Ashlin, Glad to hear you're having a good time with Dad. You're a brave boy with a compassionate heart, and that makes me extraordinarily happy. Sounds like you really know how to look out for yourself on those wild city streets. You never know who you're going to run into, do you? Lots of love, Mum."

washing day
a leg of his karate suit
kicks in the breeze

Final haiku (originally 'hills hoist') adapted from a similar version published on John Bird's Haiku Dreaming Australia website in 2006.

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