Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Very Rural Pennsylvania Haibun

chickens in the road
a barn cat slinks into grass
dandelions exhale

It takes me three days to settle into a place that should feel immediately like home. At night, the air is cool and smells like an uprooted carrot. Cowbirds imitate the calls of their neighbors and wait inside shrubbery to burgle nests. There is no mall for miles, no television where I sleep at night. I grew up this way – hours to wander and think, but I’ve forgotten it all, and find myself anxious without my family.

picking blackberries
fingers and lips stained blue
scent of sweetfern

It takes three days for the rhythm of this place to relax into a beat with my heart. Poppies bow their fuzzy, sleepy heads, a peony releases its sweetness into dusk. The donkey is the rude uncle of the pasture – he honks and heehaws toward all the magnificent horses as they graze. His ears are as soft and as big as slippers. I imagine slipping my feet into them, as if into two jewel cases, thanks to Neruda. Fences turn fields of clipped grass and turned dirt into geometry problems.

horse grinds down grass
strong jaw and grey muzzle
nuzzles the world’s body

At a small crossroads store where men stop for coffee, Sanka, and the news, a giant wheel of cheese sits on the counter. Every day the wheel shrinks a little as slices of its cheddarness bid farewell on rafts of sandwiches. Homemade sticky buns and Lepp cookies wait for a sweet tooth. I resist. I remember the comfort of our town’s little store, the aisles of dusty cans, the butcher’s bloody apron, racks of candybars, conversations and local gossip.

Flavors of comfort –
potato, yam, and coffee,
stories of hometown.