between stones
and crests of foam
from the weir of this day
we go to bathe with dippers

I recall the words of the old lady who stopped to admire my young family all those years ago. With three children under the age of six, I was more than happy to accept her advice: Leave the housework, the dust will still be there long after you’re gone. It wasn’t always easy to hold that maxim in mind, but the older I get, the more it comes back to me. In a shaft of sunlight, oh, the poetry of those twirling dust motes!

not sugared, simmered,
ladled into sterile jars
but wild . . .
summer’s blood
forever on my tongue

I can’t deny the pleasure of slipping between Mum’s freshly laundered sheets, flipping my pillow to the cool side of a Sea Breeze or a Woodland Dream, but there was little joy in learning how to perform a perfect cartwheel when I got a short, sharp smack for the grass stains on my Daz-white socks. I loved to draw, but never became confident with colour when I could barely move for newpaper, protective sheet, the tightness of those apron strings and Mum following my every move with a cloth in her hand. The veneer of her life shone like a new pin. Inside, a lonely woman became increasingly resigned to her lacklustre dreams. Such guilt I felt in wishing she was more like my friend’s Mum, who would follow her bliss at any given moment, stopping to bake cherry scones on laundry day, singing as she kneaded and rolled the dough, the foaming twin-tub skewed across their tiny kitchen floor.

there is
always time
for dust
and yet
no time

“Come on,” I say to my daughter, “let’s go!”

Note: Caddisfly larvae, Trichoptera, are a large part of the dipper’s diet.

 Haibun Today, December 2011





RSPB guide to Dippers



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mark Holloway
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 21:02:29

    A wonderful haibun, Claire.
    Beautifully written (of course!) and very moving.


  2. Margaret Dornaus
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 04:57:51

    A lovely cherry tart of a story, Claire . . . worth savoring again and again!


    • Claire
      Feb 21, 2012 @ 10:50:28

      Margaret and Mark, than you both for taking the time to read and comment. Delighted to hear this is a “cherry tart”, Margaret… and there’s a synchronicity in that too: my daughters and I often call each other “cherry bakewell” :))


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