A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2009, vol 5 no 3

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Renée Owen


Fields of Cotton

A broken window glints in the baking North Carolina sun, ivy spilling from the pane’s jagged edge. Board and batten siding barely hangs on. As I cross a clearing of dead grass, the ground, rutted with rodent holes, gives way underfoot. On its crumbling foundation, the old house sighs. Beneath the window, broken concrete blocks. I step up, peer into the gloom. After the washed-out white of summer, nothing but darkness inside. My eyes adjust, a few rays of light slant from a gaping crack in the chimney above. Motes of dust slowly twirl in the sunbeams. Leaves from a hundred autumns rot on the dirt-strewn floor. An ancient broom and apron rest, awaiting their owner’s return.

billowing fields of cotton
from the window
the master’s dark daughter

Michael Dylan Welch's comments:

In this haibun, we have no preconception of where it might be taking us. But then, amid its exploratory saunter, an unexpected flash in the poemís last line suddenly jolts us. We have dwelled in the haibunís prose, in here-and-now curiosity. We may ask if the concluding poem continues to present an immediate experience of seeing a very old woman, or if we have been transported back in time to the plantationís darker days. Either way, the thunder reverberates long after we read those lightning final words.


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