jornales

for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

‘Sayonara’ (a haibun on Fukushima inspired by a tv news reel)

News reel from a Philippine television coverage in Sendai. Families evacuated, the newscaster intones. The Philippine embassy has sent the bus to fetch Filipino-Japanese families to safer Tokyo ground.

we gather our own
in prayer–
a quiet sea

The camera catches fear on young mother’s faces, Filipino mothers, their long straight hair undone by the wind-driven snow. Bundles and backpacks like humps on their slender backs and sides bounce as they race away from shattered homes to the bus, children scrambling along, giant stuffed animal-pillows, dragging them in the danger-laced air. Inside the bus, the camera pans to pillow fights the kids have started, then close-up to a baby asleep, mouth open in lamb-like calm. A mother fusses over a girl’s stuck-up zipper. Mild chaos, more of confusion.

bedtime
lullabies and stories–
the breathing bus
slips into a dream of stars
the old moon grins

Camera returns to the scene left behind, focuses on a man in wordless soundless grief waving his hand as if in a quiet dance of despair, sometimes folding his arms as if to stem the flow of pain. He had opted to stay, the newscaster sustains his even tone. How could he leave? To leave one’s life behind is to die. To lose perhaps, never to see a wife and child again? That’s also death. The camera pans back to the desolate street. The bus moves away.

Sayonara
he waves mutely
in the falling snow
the bus swallows steam
wife and son and tears

Sendai sea–
how far is the other side?

NB

Posted soon after the tragic calamity but I deleted it when I included it to a call for submission for the anthology just published, “We Are All Japan”. Never did get any response from the editors but apparently, it was declined. Just learning how to craft both haibun and tanka then, a year ago. But I’m posting it again for what it’s worth, hoping you would feel what I felt.

The tangential connection of the tsunami destruction and my haibun comes from a personal history between Japan and the Philippines. During that unfortunate war (WWII), many families lost their fathers without goodbyes, my mother’s family, for one. Hardly ever spoken about in my childhood, I grew up nonetheless with a heavy pall of sorrow from the absence of a grandfather whom the Japanese Imperial Army excuted before I was born. No corpus was ever found but tales of how he was made to kneel for beheading abound. When I watched the news reel from a Philippine tv channel, it touched me deeply and from that core of pain this haibun wrote itself out.

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May 27, 2012 - Posted by | haibun, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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