Frozen

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After an unseasonable October snowstorm, my mother’s power has been out for three days. She shuttles back and forth between friends’ houses and the hospital where my grandfather is eking out an existence in the wake of a heart attack he didn’t tell anyone he’d had, stopping at home every so often to check on her frozen foods buried in the snow. She tells me about her friend’s maple tree, the red leaves at the height of their beauty, the white snow setting them off in unexpected fashion. I get fixated on that image and forget to listen to what she’s telling me about her plans for my future.

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low clouds
from day to day
my bookmark never moves

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Haibun Today, September 2012

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intensive

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I just had occasion to spend three days in a hospital intensive care unit (I was working, not being sick, don’t worry). Alarms go off all the time there, all of which look and sound the same to me (basically, like ohmyGod someone’s dying do something right now!). To the nurses, though–big, big differences.

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October…
blood soaking
into the test strip

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Most of the alarms bore the nurses. They barely look up when the beeping starts. Even when there’s, like, a red flashing alert on the monitor about someone’s heartbeat being all out of whack. The nurses know what kind of out of whack is really worrisome and what kind is the monitor being, frankly, kind of a worrywart.

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October—my brittle teeth surprise me by not breaking

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When it’s a real alarm, though, they move. You look up and the nurse who was sitting two feet away from you half a second ago is nowhere in sight. Where’d she go? To check on Mr. Darby.

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October
the side view mirror
breaks off in my hand

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How do they know? I kept wondering. I never know. I never know what to worry about. All the alarms sound the same. And the world is full of alarms. (Have you noticed that? Or is it just me?)

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October
I quickly throw my life
into a suitcase

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October 31: 1-4: Boo.

october stars —
lighting up the ghosts
of fireflies

 

the ghost
I’ll be someday —
the leaf I can’t catch

 

trick-or-treating —
hoping to meet
more ghosts

 

crows in autumn—
telling
ghost stories

 

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I normally have a little bit of a compulsion to write haiku sequences in odd numbers (I just like it better that way, okay?), but four is a good number of haiku about ghosts. For the Japanese, the number four signifies death. (The words are homophones, I believe. Correct me if I’m starting to sound ignorant, as so often happens.)

I’m not scared of ghosts. For one thing, I don’t believe they exist. For another, I kind of wish they did, because who wouldn’t want to talk someone who had died and find out what the scoop was on the whole afterlife thing? Especially if it was someone you’d liked while they were alive.

So these haiku are not exactly calculated to strike terror into your heart. They’re more wistful, I think. Happy All Hallows’ Eve to you all.