He was an immigrant. A painter. A Swede who arrived at Ellis Island many years ago. I was privileged, as were many, to experience his journey in a most unlikely place. A basement room, in Chicago, Illinois.
Entering that underground space, we stepped onto a ship sailing across the mighty Atlantic. Sky cerulean blue overhead, dipped to meet the horizon, forever brightened by an invisible sun. Gulls hovered above waves rolling with white caps, dabs of paint that never splashed. We sat in the midst of many family celebrations, our chairs backed up against basement walls, as if leaning on Grampa Hallberg’s painted ship rails. A lifeless life preserver hung never-used, drawn not quite round. It was a room like no other. It was the USS Sweden, frozen in time.
young beaver crosses pond
gathers sticks and stones and spring time mud –
journey revealed in lodge
It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets and I’m hosting today – asking everyone to delve into the traditional … and at the same time, take us on a trip into an interior they remember from their past. A room they can recall.
The Haibun must include 2 or 3 tight paragraphs of prose describing the interior (cannot be fiction); followed by a traditional haiku: 5-7-5 or short-long-short in syllabic form; must be about nature; must include a kigo (reference to a season) and a kireji (a cut achieved by a hyphen, ellipsis, or punctuation mark, that shifts to an added insight within the haiku.
Photo: Grampa Hajalmer Hallberg on the left in 1972, two years before his death. He immigrated from Sweden in 1906 at the age of 22. He’s sitting in the basement he painted to remind him of his journey to America on the USS Sweden.