haibun
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September 2008, vol 4 no 3

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Geoffrey Mason



Miles From Anywhere

last milk delivered
he drives to the market town
rattling with empties

Workers at the small cider-mill returned at mid-morning in their best clothes and were standing at the gateway behind their employer, his father and sister and members of the PCC. In the lane thirty children clutched little flags and trembled with excitement. The chosen one stood between two teachers, maintaining her composure as she cradled an expensive bouquet and thought of the six words she had to say. Parents fidgeted with cameras and glanced at their watches. Colin and Liz were there for the Gazette.

Watchful men in dark suits spoke softly towards their lapels and listened to tinny voices in their earphones. Seven minutes late, the helicopter caused a storm of happiness.

the mast on the hill
transmits but lovers there hear
skylarks and buzzards

A woman holding a colander picked her way around the orchard hedge. After several days of clear sky an east-north-east wind hurried little white clouds across blue and from the unsteady brambles her hands took fruit and little thorns.

terrifying planes
rehearse but always perform
very far from here

On Noggin Meadow a canvas hall was full of trestle-tables bearing vegetables, fruit, flowers, cakes and jam, where judges deliberated and placed red, blue and yellow cards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes. A doorway was opened and the crowd ambled around breathing aromas of the exhibits and crushed grass until the raffle ticket numbers were called out and it was time to start thinking of going home. Eventually, volunteers could get on with scavenging for litter and carrying the tables back up a short-cut path to the village hall and the school.

Four men in a truck returned to the empty field and soon the great hall was sagging and shuddering as they worked, taciturn in their expertise, collapsing what they had erected, making a tidy load to drive away.

the mast is red lights
visible in three counties
until morning shines

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