Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tanka Prose


This vintage box from London, dusty enough for me to draw on with a finger, holds more appeal for me than what's inside it. I wish the circumference of my sister's head were smaller so she'd claim the hat for herself, as she did in the case of our grandmother's mink stole, which I also didn't want. That would be the simplest thing, and I wouldn't have to hear the tone of disappointment in my father's voice when no one takes it.

glorious fur,
once 'the rage'—
my ever-so-quick touch
as if it might bite

I'm almost a stranger in the family house, which as it turns out is a cross between museum and antique store. I want little and need even less. Yet every now and then, while sorting through and emptying the house's contents, I feel my face positively gleam. As soon as my brother removes the decorative plates from the rack up high in the kitchen, I grab the blue-and-white one with the charming, homey winter scene, always a favorite. But my silent groan as I take a closer look: small figures on a mission to catch a turkey, kneeling in pure snow, yanking at tail feathers. (I remind myself that I have eaten not one bite of Thanksgiving turkey for twelve years.) And then, that elaborately etched serving piece: proper country gentlemen on their proper horses, accompanied by, yes, a pack of hounds. A fox chase. How did I, averse to all things gruesome, never before notice that?

I pause to consider how I came to be this way—this supposed bleeding heart, a label my brother boldly slapped on me when I was only a small child. (It would be years before I would understand the term, however.) After a few moments of hesitation, I decide to bring my bounty home, in the hope that at some point I will forget what I have seen.

her hostess tray
of hammered aluminum
always looked old . . .
now that it truly is,
I clean it to newness

Haibun Today, Vol. 10, No. 4, December 2016


  1. Great piece! An effective exploration of the mystery of what makes us who we are--and of the importance of artifacts in guiding that exploration.

  2. I really enjoyed this tanka prose piece. My grandmother had a mink stole, which she bequeathed to my mother, who wore it also (for a time). Mercifully, I have no idea where the furry thing has scampered off to. I always was put-off by it - even as a child.

  3. Thanks, Jenny, Wendy, and Jennifer!
    When I was a small child, I may have been fascinated by my grandmother's mink stole. But later, blecch.