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Contents Page: July 1, 2011, vol 7 no 2

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Peter Newton

 

One Thing

My friend, Jeanne, was always up for an adventure. She liked the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: "Do one thing every day that scares you." Jeanne lived by it. She pushed the fast-forward button at every chance. Time is short. Chop-chop. Let's go. And that was just when we would head out the door to take a walk in the year's first snowfall. A tradition in our college days. A way of honoring Ann Arbor. Our crazy, care-free time together. Up early, into the quiet street, to see our breath, clear our heads. There were books to be read. Words to be written. Swings to be swung on in Burns Park down at the end of Olivia.

Since Jeanne's death in a car wreck not two months back, she's been coming to visit me early just before the birds start singing. I am somewhere between waking and sleeping. And don't know whether her appearance is a dream or a nightmare or both.

"Courage," she says in my face, more like a drill sergeant this morning, instructing all those she loved and left behind. Her voice is steady, like she'd been reading aloud just moments earlier.

"You have to be like that first bird," she says. "You have to open your eyes each day and sing. Sing dammit. Sing. No one needs a crybaby to carry around." Jeanne strides before us half coach, half cheerleader. All business.

"Now, wake up," she says (and here's where she stops in front of me and turns to speak the words right up in my face) "With the courage to wake the world."

first light –
under her doll's bed
the packed suitcase

 

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