Past Imperfect

When I was a child of three or four, my grandparents’ garden seemed enormous.  I would take off from the back step, stretch out my arms and fly around the garden, past the living room windows to the blushing peonies, where I would stop to collect a handful of fallen petals to toss into the air like confetti as I raced off again. Up the left side of the garden, past the snowy clumps of alyssum, pinks and cheerful pansies to the rose bushes, as big as trees to me, with blooms, it seemed, as big as my head, rich reds, dark pinks and pale yellows, some multicoloured. I would continue past the honesty and night scented stock, the crocosmia, like tiny red dragons, and the greenest smelling mint. I always stopped to peer through the crack in the shed, at an old hurdy gurdy and my grandmother’s wringer, and finish at the bunker, full of dusty coal.

When my grandfather died of neglect in a hospital for sufferers of dementia, after his funeral I sat at the window, an adult looking out at the postage stamp of a garden, neglected and overgrown. The roses drooped and the honesty rustled in the winter wind, and I remembered the day I ran so fast around the garden that I fell into the rose bushes – and discovered thorns.

wind-buffeted days
viewing the past through rosy tints
sharp thorns of winter

Kim M. Russell, 2017

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My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday – How Wonderfully Imperfect

Victoria is at the bar this Monday, being wonderfully imperfect with her haibun prompt.  She explains that Wabi-Sabi is the art of imperfection. It is the recognition that everything real is transient and imperfect. It recognizes the circle of life—that things die, break, disintegrate—and finds therein beauty.

She says that she first heard of Wabi-Sabi when she took a community class on floral design; in its application to flower arrangement, she learned of the loveliness of asymmetry and simplicity. 

For today’s prompt we are considering the compelling world-view of Wabi-Sabi: we may use an imperfect object as inspiration or choose to include a grammatical or spelling error in the prose portion of our work. We should, however, adhere to the proper form for haibun:  1-3 tight paragraphs of non-fictional prose and a traditional haiku that includes a reference to a season.

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45 thoughts on “Past Imperfect

  1. Beautiful photo. Beautiful haibun. I’m so touched by the details, seeing your grandma’s wringer..:) and then the oh so sad detail of how your grandfather died. The exuberance is visceral in the first part of your prose, Kim. I feel like I’ve got my arms outstretched and I’m running with you. And then the sudden halt, when, as an adult, one sees the “postage stamp size garden” — and feel the thorns. This is beautifully written. I love how haibuns give us a glimpse into our beings…as we write them, contemplating on what we write and the words we choose; and then as we read about the lives of our poetic colleagues here.

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  2. Oh Kim. Such a perfect haibun and haiku. I loved how as a child you flew around the garden of your grandparents and then…the death of your grandfather and seeing the garden, neglected. Heartbreaking but at the beginning, so full of joy. I remember my grandmother telling me, as she put a bandaid on my finger from my trying to grab roses and getting stuck by the thorns, all your roses must have thorns. And if they don’t have thorns, there is a beetle hidden in the depths of the bloom. I truly enjoyed this.

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    1. Thank you, Toni! It took my grandmother ages to pick out every thorns with tweezers and then cover my arms, legs and face with the stinking ointment known over here as Germolene! But I Still loved that garden.

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      1. I’ll bet you did! My grandmother stuck on bandaids by the millions. but I always managed to lose them by the end of the day. Like a cat, I picked at them until they fell off. I loved our gardens as well – the kitchen garden, the rose garden, the general flower garden…the small graveled garden our next door neighbor built in the midst of the flowers. I often dream of them. always a good dream.

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  3. Kim, this touched me so very deeply. It brought memories of my own grandparents, parents and so many persons with the cruel diseases of dementia rushing in–the realization of the beauty and harshness the co-exists in old age. Big sigh.

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    1. I’m so glad you were moved by my words, Victoria. It choked me up as I wrote it. Sunday was the sixth anniversary of my father’s death. Ellen arrived that afternoon – she’s staying a few days to help me celebrate my birthday, but has to go home the day before because she has an appointment with her midwife. 🙂

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  4. Gosh, met of us meme,amber our first contact lesson with thorns. Mine came a 3 years old with blackberry bushes; their thorns are hardy & sharp. My grandparents vegetable garden was my playground too, hiding amongst the corn.

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  5. Love the childhood memories of that enormous garden, and details of the blooms in the garden ~ Looking back now, it may seem so sad that the fleeting moments are gone, but we learned some things along the way, like thorns~ Your photo is precious Kim ~

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  6. I recently lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s and that second paragraph really stuck in my throat. She adored her garden too, and my other grandparents are greatly green-fingered, I have similar memories of blitzing around their hilltop garden as a small child. Beautiful haibun, and my sympathies over the loss of your grandfather. To loose someone to their own failing memory is one thing, for it to be because of neglect makes it all the worse.

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    1. Thank you, Xenia. I think about my grandparents every day – they brought me up for the first seven years of my life. But when my father died six years ago, and then my mother last January, I started to remember so much, I just have to write about it all, which sadly includes loss. We’re going on a day trip to Southwold later this morning, my last full day with Ellen, who has to go back tomorrow lunchtime. At least I was introduced to the bump. xxx

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      1. It is good to write about this both through adult eyes and the eyes of a child again. It will give the child you were a voice in situations were you maybe felt you did not have one. Enjoy your trip to Southwold and so lovely you got to meet the bump! The spirit inside will recognise your voice when you meet again ☺💖 xxx

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  7. Thank you for sharing this open, intimate piece of writing. It contains the extremes of human emotion, joy and misery and I can only imagine how difficult it must have been. As someone who has a hard time opening up like this, I find it very inspiring.

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  8. Your Haibun is well written into your Haiku. The rose tinted view giving way to the thorns of Winter. You in your grandfather’s house as a youngster and viewing it again at his funeral as the final pages of Winter close on his life. How happy and sad both. Well expressed

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    1. It was very hard to write but I’m glad I did. It was the 6th anniversary of my dad’s death on Sunday and Ellen arrived in the afternoon so I didn’t have much time to think about him.

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  9. Oh how I wanted to cry. that realisation that the colours and hues and magic have gone and all we see is what it has/did become in old age. I came home to spend time with Dad so that we could still make memories. You mentioned honesty and took me back to my own childhood. I loved honesty. Those magical shiny seed pods. Much love to you.

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