Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tanka Prose

Singing Pines

In the center of the quiet road, a small tangle of thin cable, barely visible against the tarry surface. I determine that it's a pair of earbuds, one badly cracked, partially flattened. Who would have worn these? Who would have needed them when the sounds of nature—these woods, this sky—are all around? I resume my brisk pace, dismissing my own questions.

Moments later, the world opens up, flings itself at me with whistles, warbles, caws, chatter. With flapping sounds, scampers, whish-whooshes, crackles, and thuds, from the forest floor to the tops of the tallest pines. Everything amplified. I find music even in the human-made: distant buzzes and hums of lawn equipment, the repetitive clanking of construction a mile or so away. From then on, each time I walk along that stretch of road, the same magic, the same amplification. Days pass, weeks pass; remarkably, the earbuds stray only a foot or two from their original location.

the rattle
of threadbare branches
into an aria
of unfurling leaves

as if someone
suddenly cranked up
the bass . . .
from a pond's reedy edge
the breeding calls of bullfrogs

My husband joins me on today's walk. This time, when I see the little puddle of cable, I make an impromptu decision—to gently kick it off to the edge of the asphalt, out of the way. I notice that the damaged bud is finally missing altogether. But as we pass by again, on our second lap, I recall that a crew will soon be out to mow down the tall, wild grasses. I kick the former listening device back, ever so slightly, into the road. My husband appears baffled by my behavior, why I would want to protect such a battered, useless thing. He doesn't seem to realize that, when it comes to certain matters of importance, I need reminders.


Contemporary HaibunJuly 2017, vol 13 no 2


  1. Lovely! There is some truly wonderful writing in this tanka prose piece, Janet. I really enjoyed reading this!

  2. This is an incredible piece. You fold these pieces of life together into one fabulous whole. Dang, I wish I had your talent!

  3. Thank you, Wendy and Jennifer. I'm encouraged by your comments.

    And what are you talking about, J? You wish you had my talent?! I wish I had yours! :)

  4. A thoughtful & perceptive piece about the importance of hearing & listening .. .and noticing.