Hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman and Akila G.
11th August 2022
The second haibun in this series featuring Marietta McGregor won the Ekphrastic Challenge in Rattle [March 2018].
We never found out where she came from, our hen. One morning she was just there, in the back yard. That was one of the times when only two of us, Mum and I, lived in that house. One of the times when Dad had gone off, we didn’t know where, driven by demons we couldn’t imagine. It happened at unpredictable moments. Something would set him off, he’d start drinking, and he’d disappear. We had the house to ourselves. Life settled down a bit. I’d go off to my Seventh Day Adventist Primary school each day and hurry home, glad to have Mum to myself.
And then someone else came to live with us, this plump, glossy Black Orpington, gentle and sweet-natured. She loved a cuddle, and would sit on my knee, crooning soft warm chicken songs for hours while I stroked and settled her feathers and babied her as my special doll. She had a whole repertoire of contented burbles and trills. Sitting with her warm bulk on my knee I felt happy, protected. I wondered who she was, really.
I found out much later that chickens make about 30 different sounds. We’d do well to learn their language. I tried murmuring her talk back to her, which she seemed to like, arching her neck under my hand, fluffing and resettling herself. I don’t remember how long she stayed with us, I only remember the pleasure of having her there. One day she wasn’t. There were no signs of pain or mayhem—no foxes in Tasmania in those days. We thought she must have moved on to warble to another family.
My father came home later that year. He’d been in a War Repatriation Hospital for some time, and looked ill and tired, the emphysema beginning to cave in his chest. We never saw the chicken again.
a handful of mash
that ache for something
In this haibun a simple image is turned around to create a narrative which fits into its own space, creates its own world.
This week as we celebrate seventy-five years of Indian independence, I invite you to consider how you view India on the world map. Think of lines we draw on paper to create boundaries. What do these boundaries mean to you? What if there were no boundaries? Create a haibun that experiments with the politics of space, identity, freedom, access and equity.
As always, a good haibun will find its way into the next issue of our fabulous journal. Akila and I are eagerly looking forward to reading your haibun.
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt.
2. Share your best-polished pieces.
3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while.
4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.
5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.
We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.