Saturday, 7 May 2016

gracious garden



The neighbourhood store – slumped between a dry cleaners and nail salon – perpetually smelled of cumin and apples, punctuated with the occasional wispy waft of funky refrigeration.  The shop was run by a husband and wife, or so I presumed, by their affectionate familiarity with each other.  Though, thinking back, their actual relationship (or much of anything personal) never came up … other than his name: which was Al and her name:  which was Anna.  That is pretty much everything I knew about them:  for all those many times – almost every day, for years – that I dashed to their cash register with bread or butter or aspirins or chips (uttering an occasional half sentence about the weather).
  
The couple shared an old-soul aspect:  in their manner of speech, and in their genial countenances and demeanor, tinged, from time to time, with a faraway flicker of, momentary, sad eyes.  And so they worked, side by side:  she calling to him for help lifting and he inquiring about things she’d “hidden“.  Though as the years went by, I found Anna manning the place more-often-than-not, all alone … peacefully pleasant as always, but quieter – quieter even, than her usual quiet self … without Al near.  And then one day, I realized, I hadn’t seen him in months and months, and so, I asked about “her husband” (I took a guess) and she replied:  he passed … a year ago, he passed … as shock and shame bowed my head – adrift, suddenly, in a hollow place.
 

there are seeds
to be planted –
I will scatter round me
the lovely diversity
that grows in a gracious garden

notes:  a tanka prose piece posted for Poets United..

photo:  In the Late Afternoon Glow – W. Bourke

© 2016 Wendy Bourke


15 comments:

  1. It is interesting that sometime we see people on a regular basis in our daily lives and kind of take for granted that they will be there, and sometimes we don't even notice for a while that something is different...and then when we do we do, just what do we say to make our lack of notice all right!

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  2. Oh Wendy, how sad........and how brave of her to carry on - not that she has much choice, she has to earn her living. I really love the verse at the end of this haibun.....the seeds to be planted, the diversity of the urban garden.....very lovely. You made me see them so clearly.

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  3. this sudden void created at the end of the prose piece is piercing yet there's fulfillment in the end poem...a beautiful contrast our life is made of...

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  4. this is such a lovely and observant write. this is so true of urban societies. we may have many neighbours living in our apartment block. we say hi! to each other in the lift/elevator when we meet in the mornings. we talk about the weather and how their kids have grown up so fast. but we may still haven't learnt each other's names.
    i can so relate to your poem, having lived a long time in the city. :)

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  5. I love the little runs of memory - the cumin and the funky refrigeration.. the seeds of life and memory..strange how sometimes they overwhelm the bigger picture as well as complimenting it - we must appreciate our garden..or backyard.. whilst it is here

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  6. This is so sad and yes so very brave of her to carry on despite her loss.

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  7. What I most love is the honesty and realisation how little we might know even with those most familiar with us. I'm pretty sure this brought you closer though. Such an honest haibun also.

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  8. I will scatter round me
    the lovely diversity

    The beauty of diversity is always to be enjoyed and admired. We are there to help enhance it. Truly said Wendy!

    Hank

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  9. Your ending tanka is a beautiful piece by itself...it says so much! And then coupled with the prose, it becomes such a powerful story. One I learn each day, about how often we miss opportunities to make connections.

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  10. What a wonderful story you tell here. I can see all of this happening. The store, the patient work, the death... really a great scene you paint.

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  11. So sad Wendy. We've all experienced this melancholy of regret. You're not alone. Thank you for sharing this. It helps me remember to remember to be more conscious of those whom I meet briefly and serve me. The writing was so tenderly and beautifully rendered.

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  12. What a wonderful story... it's so real the way we are wrapped up in our own lives, not pausing to register so many things happening everyday around us!

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  13. Those neighborhood markets are all but gone (sadly.) I think you were sensitive when Anna needed it. You have painted a Rockwell moment for us, Wendy.

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  14. The way you've written this makes me as a reader feel I knew them, too. Beautiful storytelling, my friend.

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  15. A charming piece. I appreciate your relatable honesty, the realization characterized by that "hollow place" we all know.

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