top of page

THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 18th August — a Thursday Feature

Hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman and Akila G.

18th August 2022

The third haibun in this series featuring Marietta McGregor received an honorable mention in the BHS 2017 haibun contest.

Last Autumn Apples

Picture a ten-year-old child. Her mother is cook-housekeeper on an apple orchard in the south of the island. They share a high-ceilinged room in a white-painted weatherboard house beside a dead-end dirt road that winds through a valley between other orchards. The hallways of the house are lined with rough hessian to provide warmth and insulation against the bitterly-cold winters, when the sun leaves the valley at three in the afternoon. The child rarely sees the house owner. A semi-invalid in his eighties, he lies up the wooden stairs where she is forbidden to go. His grown son also lives in the house. Next door lives the younger son, a drinker, with a wild brood of children.

wind-up gramophone between each scratch an Irish ballad

She is quiet, this lonely child, and keeps to her make-believe world. The setting of the house between hills sloping gently to a narrow overgrown creek is magical, she thinks. But she needs to be on her guard. She’s a city-slicker, bookish, so a perfect mark. The wild kids set out to toughen her up. Still, she loves it here. She bites into Cox’s Orange Pippins and Ladies-in-the-Snow missed by the pickers, frost-sweetened on bare trees. She finds apple-scented corners in the packing shed, amidst pine boxes marked with the names of exotic ports. On cold mornings there’s a squirt of warm milk from the Jersey’s teats. Muscovy ducks and bedraggled yellow ducklings forage in the slush. Her mother makes duck-egg sponges, fresh-churned butter, apple pies with clotted cream.

in a cubby of crates the stencilled dreams of elsewhere.

Then one year she and her mother leave for good. She starts high school in the city. Later she learns the owner of the orchard died soon after, and the first-born son shot himself in his bedroom. A new owner artistically restores the period features of the old weatherboard house. The room once home to a mother and her solitary child, with its bay window, mirrored fireplace over-mantle and pressed tin ceiling, becomes an elegant sitting room. The hessian-walled hallways are kept intact and the white-painted staircase still leads somewhere upstairs. In the 100-acre orchard someone long ago has grubbed out all the apple trees, the hills are smooth pasture. The apple-packing shed is in ruins.

obituary notice on an empty shelf dust of children’s laughter

Marietta borrows from personal experience to create really diverse narratives. In her telling of a story I feel she invests time and patience along with details. It is these details that create a space that one finds very easy to picture in the mind's eye.

This week, I leave the choice of the landscape to you. You may decide to work in the urban space or the rural and rustic. I invite you to invest some of your thoughts and energy in creating details as you experiment with your next haibun.

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.


268 views97 comments
bottom of page