Tanka by Mary Kendall (c) 2017
Tanka by Mary Kendall (c) 2017
These senryu/haiku were published in the October (2017) issue of Brass Bell, a haiku journal. The theme: Body haiku
Link to Brass Bell, the journal: http://brassbellhaiku.blogspot.com
Earlier this year, Australian poet and friend, David Terelinck, invited me to create a responsive tanka sequence with him. David is a poet I greatly admire, so it was a real honor to write with him. It was the first time I’d attempted anything like this, but under David’s very gentle and skilled tutelage, our sequence grew and grew. In creating this piece with David, I learned as much about trust as I did about the nuances of writing tanka.
When we finished our sequence, David asked, “Now where shall we send this sequence for publication?” I was dead silent, being a bit in shock that he felt this piece should be published. At his suggestion, we submitted it to Skylark, a Tanka Journal edited by Claire Everett. Claire is one of the world’s finest tanka poets and editors. She herself has written responsively with David, and he has provided the forward for her last book. Two of my favorite poets alive discussing publication and minor edits. What a wonderful thing to happen.
This month, Skylark, a Tanka Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, Winter 2016 was published.Here is our tanka sequence, When the Light Departs. My thanks to you, David Terelinck, for being my teacher, mentor and friend.
[Note: David’s verses are in regular font and mine are in italics.]
Responsive tanka sequence between David Terelinck (AUS) & Mary Kendall (USA)
When the Light Departs
of clouds & winter light –
it’s not what you said
but how you looked
as you said it . . .
to explain why the world
seems darker now . . .
all the frozen buds
on the camellia bush
days and days
of endless rain that swells
the window sills –
only two weeks left
in her first trimester
knowing of what
may never be . . .
the silence of snowdrops
pooling on the lawn
not the way
she expected to wear
all white . . .
the greying of her thoughts
a young dove lost
in a sea of mist
. . . my empty arms
she spends the morning
filling freshly turned beds
with crocus bulbs –
what else can a woman
of a certain age do?
when the light
departs, I put down
my paintbrush . . .
this world of colour
between earth and sky
© 2016 David Terelinck & Mary Kendall
Published in Skylark, a Tanka Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, Winter 2016
Note: both photographs are from the public domain
A wonderful surprise email told me that a haiga of mine had been selected as an “Honorable Mention, Mixed Media** Category” in the Jane Reichhold Haiga Contest sponsored by two wonderful senryu journals:
Failed Haiku, A Journal of English Senryu Volume 1, Issue 11, edited by Michael Rehling
Prune Juice – A Journal of Senryu, Kyoka, Haibun and Haiga, Issue 20, November 2016, edited by Steve Hodge
The Judges of the contest were: Kris Kondo, Ron C. Moss, Michele Root-Bernstein
Michele wrote the commentary on my haiga:
“With the sparest of words and imagery, this haiga lays bare the essence of life in the face of death. If the poem skirts the uncertain boundary between haiku and senryu, just as certainly the picture skirts the shadowlands of mortality, its single image illuminating the darkness with a pulsating light. So well integrated are text and image that the associative leap between the two has the power of metaphor: the shaved skull is the incubating egg, never mind the incongruity. Avoiding the maudlin and the sentimental, this haiga speaks simply, honestly, of the beauty to be found in the ordinary, ordinarily hidden from view.”
This competition was in honor of the late Jane Reichhold who was such a brilliant poet, teacher, editor and mentor to so many who write haiku, senryu, tanka and other small form poems. I never had the honor of meeting her, but her main book on haiku has been a bible for me and so many others.
**Mixed Media, which can be any combination of traditional and photographic, or computer generated images and text.
Brushing Your Hair
In the last month you ask me a favor.
Will I brush your hair when you have passed?
You seem to want to greet whatever comes
looking your best. I give my promise.
Each day when I come home, I offer
to brush your hair, but you say no,
maintaining the independence
you have always shown.
Later, in hospice, I no longer ask.
I hold your hands, rubbing lotion in,
skin so fragile, like a butterfly wing.
It is time now to make the last ablutions.
I clean your face and brush your hair,
your sleeping eyes flicker
under paper-thin lids, pale blue veins
tracing their course across them.
I imagine your mother tenderly holding you,
stroking your cheek, watching you dream
in her arms—her newborn daughter
with milky breath.
Ninety-one years separate us, your two watchers.
One joyously bringing you into the world;
the other sitting silently in the dim-lit room,
keeping watch over you through the night.
The poem, “Brushing Your Hair” is from my chapbook, Erasing the Doubt (c) 2015, Finishing Line Press.
Charlotte’s Story: Haiku for Wilbur
by Mary Kendall
who knew what a story
something my kind
silken parachutes in spring wind
hearts woven together
in their own story
little did they know
how special you were—
a real friend
who accepted me as I am…
you have a good friend…
this radiant heart
“I Told You”
out of nowhere
grows the best thing…
kindness of spirit
your kindness of heart
who knew how high
even a rat
can help a friend..
time for rest
my voice a whisper
no need to worry—
our memories will live on
in your heart
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