Haibun: "Cirrus and Cumulus"

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Cirrus and Cumulus

               up, up, up

               the beanstalk spires

               puncturing the clouds

The sprout burst into the garden, an ugly little weed between the ornamental squash and the snap peas. No amount of pulling could rip it from its roots — it continued its skyward journey, verdant leaves unfurling, stalk twisting ever higher. The man let it be, watching it swell thicker, stretch higher. It wasn't until the pumpkins fell, tumbling as the ground gave way beneath them, that he discovered the fissure the stalk had formed. Peering down, he discovered beneath a hazy mist another world — tiny houses lined tiny lanes, fields of wheat and oats patchworked over miniscule hillsides — a wonderland too small even to be a child's playhouse. Hours he spent crouched, watching with fascination the pin-scale figures move about in the miniature world below.

               vine and branch

               demand to be scaled

               a boy crawls into the sky

Awakened to the screech, the bawling of his beloved harp, the mournful howling of its strings thrumming, he made chase. The boy, no taller than the man's forearm, fled across the garden, gold in his pockets, the harp with her delicate arms reaching for rescue on his back. Down the stairs, through the hall, out the door, the man ran, his heart disintegrating. He had made her, smelted gold from ore and alloyed it with fragments of stardust, shaped by hand the bow of her back, molded the soft smile of her face, plucked bolls of cirrus and cumulus and spun them together to make her strings. Each night she sang, soothing his tired, aching soul, easing the weight of the abyss in his chest. The boy disappeared into the crack at the foot of the beanstalk, the crevasse too small for the man. He roared his despair and stamped his foot — one, two, three — widening the gap to follow.

               the arc of the ax

               severs fiber and pulp

               the beanstalk bleeds

At first, the shift is small, a slight give, a subtle sway, then the vine dips sideways. They fall together — the man and the great rope of leaves — united in the act of decent. Untethered, his initial fear gives way to a momentary sense of weightlessness, freed from the boundaries of either one world or the other, he belongs to none. The toy town below grows in stature as he approaches it, filling him with wonder, until he finally comes to rest in the patchwork fields with a resounding of earthquakes and thunder.

               all sins are forgotten

               buried like giant bones

               beneath the hill

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