Lillian here. Delighted to host Haibun Monday the the pub today.
About ten years ago I went on a day-long silent retreat at a monastery. I’m not particularly religious so I knew I wouldn’t be praying all day, or contemplating great religious truths. The day was spent alone as I recall, in a small cell-like room. Lunch, also silent, was at a long table with other retreat participants. We were allowed to bring an empty notebook, pen/pencil and a bible if we wished. I brought a notebook and pen. I decided to use the time going back in my memory – to my earliest memories not triggered by photographs or family lore. What could I remember that did not appear in a photo, in the pages of my “baby book” or in tales I’d heard over various holidays and gatherings? I opened my notebook and began to sketch the layout of the house I remembered living in. I knew I moved out of that house in third grade (I’m 73 years old). I drew simple squares/rectangles to represent rooms….slanted lines for doors etc. I labelled my room, my parents’, my brother’s, the bathroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, front porch, enclosed back porch that led into the kitchen. I sketched the back yard with some kind of wire fence; a garage beside and sort of back from the house. Lilac bushes in the back yard.
Then I started remembering my brother’s small room. His bed was on some kind of metal ledges that held up his mattress. It fit exactly across and between the two walls, at the end of his room (a narrow room!). I remembered the built-in bookshelf just inside his door. It had a drop-down desk made by my father; used by my mother to pay bills. He had one small closet – and suddenly I remembered the fake bear rug my mother hid in his closet for me from Santa. I found it before Christmas, which led to a spanking. Then I remembered standing by the couch tapping my brother’s head while he ate popcorn and apples. He was 9 years older than me. My room was much bigger than his. My dad bought a headboard – the kind you get at an unfinished furniture shop – and made it into a book case with glass doors and shelves where the mattress should go. It held all my story book dolls. Suddenly I realized my brother must have felt gypped out of a big room by his little sister! Then I started remembering other things that happened in that house. I wrote and wrote and wrote….all memories that started flooding back. It was an amazing exercise. I still have the notebook.
So for today’s haibun….I’d like you to do a similar exercise BEFORE you write your haibun. Get a few pieces of blank paper, have pen in hand, close your eyes for a minute and go back as far as you can in time….to your first memories not triggered by a photograph or by family lore. Maybe it’s what your very first house looked like. Maybe you suddenly remember your dad teaching you to ride your first bike. Or what your yard looked like – or the inside of your very best childhood friend’s house. Don’t just use the memory ideas I’ve listed here! Really do the exercise. Just start remembering and jotting down. Now for your haibun, pick one memory you’ve written down and relay it to us. NO CHEATING! No quickly saying, “Oh I’ll write about this.” Really do the exercise. I promise….what comes back will surprise you. Force yourself into memories not in photographs; not already written down or told to you by others. Let’s see what we get! You’ll probably jot down more than what you use in your haibun. You may even decide to extend the time, being surprised by what comes to mind!
[On a somber note: I recognize this exercise may be painful for some and respect your decision not to partake in today’s haibun. I’ll see you on the dVerse trail another day. Just like with all prompts at dVerse, we can pick and choose the ones we want to participate in.]
Those of you new to dVerse or the haibun form:
- A HAIBUN IS: 1 to 3 succinct prose paragraphs that must be a true accounting, not fiction, followed by a haiku (three lines, 5-7-5 syllables, that includes a seasonal reference and has a direct or subtle relationship to your prose paragraphs, without condensing or summarizing them). This time you do not necessarily have to follow the Japanese tradition of including a kigo or kireji in your haiku. If you’d like to strictly follow that Japanese tradition, look back at my dVerse New Year’s Haibun prompt on January 4th this year for an explanation of those terms.
- Post your haibun to your blog AND add the exact URL for your poem to Mr. Linky below.
- REMEMBER to either TAG dVerse in your post, or include a link at the end of your haibun that leads readers back to dVerse (https://dversepoets.com).
- If there is no Tag or link back to dVerse, I will gently remind you to add it or remove your post from Mr. Linky. Sorry to be so harsh…..but this is just part of the requirements AND it will bring you more readers and lead more folks to dVerse so they can participate as well!
Go to it! Looking forward to reading your haibuns that result from your walk down Memory Lane.
Photo taken about 5 years ago….after I jotted down the whate inside of my house looked like. This is the house I grew up in until I was in 3rd grade.