Each April, Oklahoma poet Ken Hada gathers writers together for three days of readings, camaraderie and celebration of the written and spoken word at East Central University’s Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in Ada, Oklahoma. This was the second year I’ve had the pleasure of participating in Scissortail by reading a selection of my haibun to festival-goers.
The last day of the festival was the 12th anniversary of my mother’s death, and the haibun I read at this year’s Scissortail paid tribute to her. (My mother grew up in Ada and attended East Central before moving to Norman, Oklahoma, where she graduated from law school, married my father, and set about raising a family.)
I’m happy with my reading, and grateful, as always, for the opportunity to share my writing with a live audience that is warm, receptive and responsive. Still, I wish I’d included the following haibun (which I’ve previously posted here) in my reading selection. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Perhaps this story is still too close for me to speak the words out loud.
It’s late January—one of those rare, balmy winter days that occasionally happens in Arkansas—and my mother and I have taken advantage of the break in weather to take a day trip to one of our favorite places.
We’ve been making the trek to this mountain town—together and individually—for almost three decades. Its Victorian architecture and cobblestone streets always captivate us, no matter the season. But winter—when it’s quiet—without tourists—makes us feel this is our own private playground. Today, we’ve wandered through the few shops that are open; ambled through a woodland chapel; driven to the panoramic crest overlooking the surrounding valley. We’re happy.
As we head west out of town, winter’s light—the kind that’s clear and golden and makes you want to testify—bathes us and the receding streets with more warmth as the sun begins to set. It’s then that my mother, one eye to the future, says to me, “Perhaps you can live here.” When I’m gone, she means, but she doesn’t have to say more.
soapsuds . . .
mother tells me how
she’d like to die
Contemporary Haibun 15, April 2014
fear of dancing: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2013