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

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Jeffrey Woodward


Big Sandy

Persons are born. Persons die. Who can tell me from whence they come? Who can tell me where they go?
-- Kamo no Chômei

One room cabin — from the dirt road, two miles up a hollow by foot where a gulley washout doubles as a trail — reputedly once home or hideaway to my friend's great uncle, a Prohibition Era moonshiner or counterfeiter: the oral history varies — the county where that shack is situated dry to this day, the locals hike over the state line, the Big Sandy River, for a swill of beer, a nip of bourbon.

"Best watch your step in those hollows, son, and up those ridges" — his grandfather's admonition — "a bit of copper lining's all the white lightning boys left but their kin up there hacking, hanging grass for a cash crop, they don't favor strangers" — then he coughed up coughed up a black lung again and he finished — "and those copperheads, they're everywhere, long and thick."

One room cabin — a sag in the porch, a dusty window in the door, a wood-stove in one corner, a wooden stool opposite — little more than Kamo no Chômei's ten-foot square hut with tarpaper tacked on, the Buddha Amidha ripped away — "no one's lived up there, no one's visited that place in twenty, thirty years," the old man's catarrhal echo long after — my friend rubbing the glass with a flannel shirt sleeve for a better view into a long forsaken interior.

the old calendar
at a haphazard angle
and sun on the wall

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