How did a city girl end up a high school English teacher in rural Iowa? From graduating in a class of eight-hundred-fifty, quick-stepping to Pomp and Circumstances so the procession wouldn’t last an hour; to senior class sponsor of thirty-two, holding students back until the prior one was all the way down the aisle and seated – so the band could play the entire song.
Town square on Main Street. No traffic lights. Elementary school kids on decorated trikes and bicycles in the high school homecoming parade. Future Farmers of America, 4-H, and drama club. Six-on-six girls’ basketball and a superintendent who sometimes wore bibber overalls. Houses with unlocked doors and party-line telephones. Church cookbooks and pot-lucks. Friendly people always willing to share, listen, and lend a helping hand. My second time in high-school. More special than the first.
ten foot drifts that year
folks hunkered down waiting for plows –
farm cats warm in barns
Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. It’s Tuesday Poetics and Amaya is hosting, asking us to remember our school days. Photo: Our rented farm house in rural Marengo, Iowa.
buried beneath snow.
Monotone whitened rural scene
minus crocus, lilacs,
and red breasted robins.
Brightened only by weathered barn
and newly painted crimson birdhouse,
daredevil cheerful bracelet
on snow laden tree limb.
Old man winter,
still balking at retirement.
Photo by Sari Hacker, my former Iowa Valley High School student. Fond memories of our days in Marengo, Iowa.
Thirty acres of Iowa farmland surrounded our country house ~ the first home we ever owned. We tended a huge garden, had six apple trees, and rented out the rest of the land to a nearby farmer.
It was a magical place in all seasons. Spring time brought apple blossoms and the sound of tractors moving up and down the fields. Our summer garden overflowed with zucchini while wind-blown sheets flapped on the clothesline. Fall harvest coincided with our consolidated high school’s homecoming parade around town square. Winter storms left corn stalk stubs peeking out from a blanket of white snow. And if we were lucky, we might spy a migrating snowy owl, perched atop the fence post next to our old wooden barn.
blizzard blows in night
red barn awakens to white landscape
snowy owl hoots in delight
Victoria is hosting Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. A Haibun is a Japanese form of poetry that includes one or two paragraphs of tight nonfiction prose followed by a haiku that must include a seasonal reference. Today, Victoria tells us how the Japanese associate the Kigo, Fukuroo with the season of winter (Kigo is owl; Fukuroo means the snowy owl). We are to write a haibun about owls. Photo in public domain from pixabay.com
It was the first summer after we bought our Iowa farm house. City transplants, we planted a huge garden. Tomatos, sweet corn, carrots, beets, cucumbers, radishes, green and yellow beans, peas, zucchini, squash and pumpkin, all kinds of peppers, and oak leaf and ruby red lettuce. I planned to can and freeze vegetables. Enjoy our harvest through the winter.
On this particular hot and humid day, I was seven months pregnant and exhausted, but very proud of my first attempt at canning stewed tomatoes. I’d picked and washed the tomatoes. Dipped them in boiling water to loosen the skins. Chopped them with celery and peppers. Cooked the mixture and poured them into sterilized glass jars. And finally processed them in the pressure canner. Deliciously, gloriously red, the mixture was now displayed in mason jars, standing tall on my cupboard.
And then I heard our German Shepherd barking — a lot. I took two steps into the back yard and stopped dead in my tracks. The smell was unbelievable. Skunk. And all those beautiful stewed tomatoes, gone in a flash. Rubbed into the coat of Toby. At least he had the grace to lick his chops.
nature thunders rain
magnolia blooms fall to ground
It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Grace asks us to write a haibun related to summer. This summer memory is from many many years ago. Haibun: prose (cannot be fiction) followed by a haiku (should be related to nature). Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come on over and join the fun! Photo in public domain – from Pixabay.
Cornstalk remnant icy spikes
pierce snow crusted land.
Rare snowy owl, alert
watches for prey.
Written for day 15 of Holly Wren Spaulding’s online 21-day Vernal Equinox course. A four line poem that includes snow.
Rural Iowa and fifteen acres of land. Three rusty metal cross-bars hold taut clothesline flapping white sheets and cotton diaper cloths. I stand on tip-toe, reaching high to pick low-hanging fruit. Branches sag with their weight. Nearby, the garden waits. Beet greens wilt, red-veined, atop vegetables grown too plump beneath the soil. Feathery dill goes to seed as crazed zucchini plants maze through cukes and pumpkin patch.
In the distance, I see dust rise before I hear the car. George is returning from city life to our quiet country home. A space to live simply on the land.
rolling hills of green
beribboned by dusty roads
corn silk dries in sun
It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Toni is tending bar and speaks to us about the Japanese tradition of foresting — simply walking through the woods, unplugged, relaxed, listening and smelling what is true. Our Haibun must be one or two tight paragraphs of prose (not fiction) followed by a haiku. She asks that we write about a time we simply enjoyed the out-of-doors or a natural place. She wants us to relax with our readers — offering a post of calm.
We rented an Iowa farmhouse in 1973, in the midst of loess hills and cornfields. The acreage included a silo, machine sheds, pigs’ digs, and a large barn with 1876 chiseled into the fading red wooden door. On this particular January night, in the midst of a howling blizzard, we heard thumping at our door. Cat, our inherited outdoor farmcat, sat on the stoop. Bulging pregnant belly of yesterday gone, her teats hung low. We offered a bowl of warm milk as George donned winter gear. He set out to follow Cat and insure her new kittens were safe, protected from the storm. She led him in and out of buildings, round that farm for thirty plus minutes. He finally gave up the hunt and came inside, looking like a freeze-frame from Dr. Zhivago. Mucous frozen mustache. Beard turned prematurely white with snow. We feared the worse. And then . . . some weeks later, on a clear, crisp and sunny day, Cat paraded by our window with a smirk on her face. Six little ones scurried behind.
winds howl, snow pelts earth
nature’s creatures burrow deep
wait for calming sun
It’s haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Toni asks us to write about a night we remember. The haibun form includes a paragraph or two in prose (must be nonfiction) followed by a haiku. Photo is in fact, the old farmhouse mentioned in the haibun. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Stop by and imbibe some poetry or share your memories of one special night!
City lights blink like fireflies, regardless of season. High rise windows shine where brick meets sky in a busy horizon.
Ten thousand steps a day are easy here. Church, mosque, supermarket. Post office, synagogue and hardware store. Restaurants serve Italian, Chinese, Ethiopian, French, Japanese, Greek, seafood, pizza, tapas, ribs. Department stores, yarn shop, coffee shops, and burger joints. Museum of Fine Arts and African American Meeting House. Beauty and nail salons, barbershop, shoe repairs, dentists, doctors, optometrist and palm reader too. Freedom trail and river stroll. I am carless in the city. Well-worn walking shoes upon my feet and a cornucopia of things to do.
dripping down my chin.
Transplanted to cityscape.
I still carry heartland habits,
greeting surprised strangers
as they pass me by on city streets.
Written for dVerse, the virtual poet’s pub, where Bjorn is hosting Haibun Monday and suggesting a modern take on this form — put it into a city poem and the haiku that follows the prose may or may not be about nature; may or may not follow haiku form. Pub opens at 3 PM…come visit other’s views of city life! Photos taken from our 7th floor deck in our highrise in Boston.
Cornfields, stalks of silk-tasselled green planted in marching rows, wave in hot humid breeze. Then slowly stop. Stand tall. Sensing. Waiting. Sky shifts from grey to sickly yellow. As if the early morning sun has returned to sulk and leave its stain. A rushing sound begins to fill the air. Decibels increase as dark clouds coalesce. Meld into a funnel shape and roar across the field. Dust swirls up from roads, their surface shocked as rain explodes from sky.
Field mice hide
‘neath towering stalks of grain and corn
as sky erupts in fury.
Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Toni tending bar talks about the Japanese culture – in particular, fifty shades of rain. There are 50+ words for rain. She asks us to use one of these words in the title or the body of the haibun (prose followed by a haiku). The Japanese haiku: 3 lines, short, long, short; always about nature. The Americanization of the haiku has shifted to a strict three line, 5-7-5 syllabic form, about any subject. Shinotsukame means intense rain.