Clouded Yellow, the colour of the fine bone china tea set, a gift for your Coming of Age in 1948. You always say how astonishing it is that only one cup has a chip in it. Not once have I seen you use it, yet how many times have you wrapped it in tissue and newspaper, packed it away in a box, ready to take out and display for a few more years, until you move house again? The silver cake stand, a gift for your wedding in 1951. Every year you made butterfly cakes for my birthday, but the occasion never arose grand enough for it to grace your table.


even as it is spoken
the word fades…
for you, the symmetry
for me, the wings

* Clouded Yellow Colias croceus an immigrant butterfly to the UK, originating from Africa, or southern Europe



A Hundred Gourds 1:1


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margaret Dornaus
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 23:35:52

    Oh, I loved this when I first read it in A Hundred Gourds, Claire. Thank you for posting it!


    • Claire
      Dec 11, 2011 @ 20:22:02

      Margaret, thank you so much. Once again, it was lovely to be by your side in such a beautiful collection of work. Your haibun in Notes from the Gean gave me chills!


  2. Kay Tracy
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 00:25:41

    Oh, Claire. How sad and lovely. The last two lines of your poem are a perfect description of how people see things differently.

    easier to be
    young butterflies
    learning from Master Wind
    the sense of the rose


    • Claire
      Dec 11, 2011 @ 20:16:44

      Thank you for your lovely comment and beautiful poem. Yes, the longer I live, the more it becomes apparent that the ones I love seem to lean either towards the symmetry, or the wings. Of course, there is room for both and one can be enhanced by the other, but sometimes the gulf between us can be quite painful.


  3. Brian
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 16:27:42

    What a nuanced, fair, and gentle composition, Claire. There are owners and there are custodians. Of the two, only the latter has any claim to reality.

    even as it is spoken
    the word fades…

    What can be said of such beautiful lines, artful breaks and ellipses, other than: “Yes!”?

    Several years ago, when visiting the States, I mentioned to my aunt a fondness for milk glass, recalling how my grandmother had occasionally collected it (AND let us handle it). My aunt walked over to a kitchen cupboard and removed four goblets — hobnail milk glass. “These were Mom’s”, she said. “I am giving them to you on the single condition that you USE them. They are of no use to anyone hidden in this cupboard. Use them to celebrate.”

    Wonderful tanka prose. You are incredibly gifted.


    (Note to Kay: Lovely response poem, my friend.)


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