Under the Table at Grandmother’s House

Although my grandmother was quite open and modern in her outlook, her tastes were old-fashioned. This was reflected in the house where I grew up: in its solid furniture, embroidered cushions and tablecloths that hung low to cover the table legs. For a small child, the dining table was a house or a tent, where my little sister and I could hide. It was square, made of heavy, dark brown wood, and had flaps that pulled out to extend its size when we had visitors. It stood between the ‘put-you-up’ sofa and the French windows that looked out onto the postage stamp garden. Four chairs were tucked around it and there was just enough space for two small children to squeeze between them and sit on the cross of struts that gave extra support. My grandparents would pretend they couldn’t find us and you’d hear them move from room to room calling our names.

However, one day unexpected visitors arrived and they forgot we were there. We watched from our hiding place as my grandmother’s feet trotted between the table and the little scullery where she had prepared a pot of tea and a plate of cakes. Not realising that the teapot was already on the table, my sister began tugging on the tablecloth to signal that we were still there. The steaming teapot toppled over the edge, splashing scalding hot liquid over my legs. My sister emerged unscathed, sobbing uncontrollably at my white-faced silence and the blisters already forming on my bare legs.

in memory’s garden
scent of lavender and mint
a comforting balm

Kim M. Russell, 23rd July 2018


My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun: Delving into the Traditional

Lillian is hosting Haibun Monday this week and she’s been doing some research to learn more about the haibun. She has given us some background about the haibun’s origins, the first haibun anthology, a reminder of the traditional form and a full explanation of kireji and kigo, with examples. Today Lillian would like us to journey together into an interior.

She wants us to close our eyes and go back in time, to the house we grew up in, the very first house we remember living in, and try to recall a room or place in that house that still resides in our memories. She asks us to take our minds around the rooms and see what details we can picture. Do we remember this room because of something that happened there…..or someone who habitually sat there?

Our haibun should begin with one or two short paragraphs describing that room – a true account, not fiction, followed by a haiku that adheres to the musts as given by Lillian, particularly the section on the SAIJIKI.

45 thoughts on “Under the Table at Grandmother’s House

  1. Oh this is wonderful! Is the photo of you and your sister? Love the description of the table…”sitting on the cross of struts.” Excellent details that take us right into the room and into the experience you describe. I trust you were well taken care of in terms of your blistered legs………and that your sister’s tears were dried as well.
    The haiku is perfect for the prose….the spring/summer garden – and I can take the pause/break either after the first line or the second. Love your response to the prompt!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Lill! That’s me on the tricycle and Carol, my sister, on the scooter, in my grandparents’ garden. This was when we all lived with them. My grandmother, who lost a lung, and my mum were just getting over TB.
    I think my grandmother dealt with the blisters – she probably smeared iodine or calamine lotion all over them, and Carol’s tears were dried. I think we were given some kind of creamy bun to cheer us up. The place where we lived, Mitcham, was famous for its lavender and mint, and my grandparents grew both in the garden, alongside my grandfather’s beloved roses and peonies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Simpatico indeed–I wrote about my grandfather as well. Your table as fort tale is wonderful. As a child, I never hid under a table; I preferred closets–they smelled exotic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your fortress sprung a leak. I’m glad you were able to be healed. I don’t think we ever hid under the table. It didn’t have a table cloth. When we needed to hide it was usually because of some small crime, lol. I love the closeness you expressed in your Haibun. It sounds like it was a wonderful place to live

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this! I thought you were going to say the house was haunted with the teapot inching its way towards doom. the Haiku is truly spectacular – one of the best I have read today. I love the pic of you and your sister with your blonde white curls.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think most children love hiding or playing under tables. You describe this so well–I felt like I was there. But the scalding water–yikes! I’m glad you weren’t more seriously injured.
    I also like the scents of the haiku.
    That photo is wonderful, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Loved this. What an ending, didn’t expect that. I was under the table with you, watching the hurried footsteps back and forth. I am facinated by the ‘put-you-up sofa’. Was that a pullout bed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pat. ‘Put-you-up’ is what my grandparents called a pull-out bed. It must have been one of the first: it was huge, unwieldy and great for hiding in!


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