Escape – Haibun


May 28, 2017 by petrujviljoen

The walk became necessary for my own sake. Calling the cat, ‘come, let’s go’ and her dawdling, making me wait made me leave her. Behind me the houses disappeared as I rounded the bend at a near jog. Deep down into the valley. I didn’t mean to … go so far. Morning has made little progress, as yet.

I came to a halt. Perplexed. Still dazed. What? The stalks of cut grass, a fire-break, became a slippery carpet; downward steep, abrupt in places. Oh. I sat down and slid along to firmer ground; down and to the right to where dense stubs served as footholds.

The clump of trees closed behind me. I remained a moment at the edge. Swathes of now golden veld opened up and out to the vast horizon.

in-breath strengthening, blue-green dream at verge of sleep

– river a slightness

Further on the waterfall thunders down a forty metre drop with tremendous power. This  is off the tourist route. I regretted not bringing my camera. I didn’t mean to … I came this far so I resolved to find a way down, dismissed not having had breakfast. Veering back into the veld, away from the overgrown edge of the cliff I found an enclosure. Barbed wire, old, wood rotten. My heart sank. It looked like a grave. I didn’t turn round.

My brother. I fought him. Accused him. Confronted him. Terrible, terrible things. A week long, years, decades, most of my life living half a life, I raged, furious, defensive, old, unused psychic channels blasted open. He had a stroke. A week later he passed away. I staggered from room to room until I fled so I won’t stifle.

It wasn’t a grave. A cleft in the earth, not very wide, was fenced in some time long ago so one would not fall down it. One wouldn’t have noticed wading through swaying grass waist high. There was no need for fire-breaks here. Not this year.

the idea of him, the severing, I  remain – discomfited

I meant to get to the edge of the cliff to see if there was a way to climb down. Striding, I walked away from the enclosure and very nearly stepped into another cleft, much wider, unfenced, unseen from the slight height before the plate of rock in sight. Why wasn’t it also fenced in? Did it form later? When? I quailed at the thought of injury and took a wide berth back towards the top of the waterfall and made my way upstream where things were a bit more foreseeable.

A rim of debris formed where the water reached from the last rain. Beyond it a patch of tiny pebbles, many shapes and colours nestled between larger rocks. I bent down to study it, just to see. One has a thin red double line, a perfect meander.

I endured sudden, involuntary rages the whole while I was outbound, out loud at times. There was no-one to hear. I remembered a painting in a junk shop. The view from just above water in a murky ocean, colours brown and dismal. The painter signed his (her?) name in thin red paint. I put the pebble in my pocket and sat. Just sat. How old must an imprint be before it can be called a fossil?

Exhausted of all thought, spirit settled down for a time – being.



33 thoughts on “Escape – Haibun

  1. Very powerful, familiar and cathartic journey. Thank you for taking me with you and sharing the ebb and flow with me. (PS I have chronic health issues and still catching up to the last OLN)

    • Don’t worry about being late with commenting on posts – and thanks for taking the time to read mine and comment so thoughtfully. Sorry you found something familiar in it! Be as well as you can. Sorry you’re ill.

  2. Reminds me of the art of Andy Goldsworthy., particularly the film ‘Rivers and Tides’. You should seek it out if you are unfamiliar with it.

  3. sanaarizvi says:

    It’s incredible what thoughts and memories a long walk can conjure up! Sigh…

  4. Grace says:

    Deep and thoughtful lines ~ I always feel “small” besides waterfalls and rocks ~ Some things to muse about ~

  5. Bodhirose says:

    What came to mind is, there is no escape from ourselves and those sometimes intrusive thoughts that carry us back into the past to keep reliving it. Except your excellent last line wraps it all up perfectly as you allow yourself to just be. I really liked joining you on this journey, Petru.

  6. The thoughts going back to your brother was especially touching… the thoughts of the pasts, and the way you were pulled away in that morning walk…

  7. colorfulpen says:

    This is great. I especially like: exhausted of all thought, spirit settled down for a time – being.

  8. A long and cathartic walk, an exploration of emotions beautifully expressed. Bravo

  9. Those “escape walks” can be therapeutic. I could somehow see this as the opening scene in a film. 🙂

  10. scotthastiepoet says:

    Sorry for typo!

  11. scotthastiepoet says:

    So sorry, unexpected visitors last night have made me rather late in responding to your piece. Truly rare to see… Absolutely perfect and beautiful haiku that has real presence, I thought – Thank you…

  12. Bryan Ens says:

    Amazing what thoughts and memories a long walk can bring up!

  13. I appreciate you putting into words the heartbreaking complexity of family, the grief of loss and the confusion that remains. Thanks for taking me on this walk with you.

  14. I very much like your final haiku piece, and that ambivalent time-being and time – being (as in being in the moment). Powerful stuff.

  15. thotpurge says:

    Engrossing read… especially love the last old must an imprint be…

  16. MarinaSofia says:

    I’d love to be able to take my cat for a walk, but her dawdling is chronic. As you say, has to sniff at everything along the way.
    I like your meditation on time and shifts and changes – and regrets(guilt?) about your brother.

  17. SonniQ says:

    You understand.

  18. La Quemada says:

    Evocative and compelling. “Exhausted of all thought, spirit settles down for a time – being,” this last line in particular sticks with me.

  19. This has made quite an impact on me. Very powerful. And so beautifully written.

  20. Sitting next to the river, a stream really, looking at the water, the sound, the movement, the patterns as the water moved around the rocks – all I remember thinking is whether it would make a good camping spot. I find it impossible to meditate at home these days, so I think I got ‘lucky’ – also the sound of the rushing water drowned out most thoughts! The ‘fully encompassing all aspects of the presenting drama free-fall’ – something to consider when I ‘fail’ to meditate properly. To just sit with the drama I suppose.

  21. HI Petru, Interesting essay. Hope you got home safely and that the cat went all the way with you. Well done. Liz

    • Thanks Liz. No, the cat got left at home this time. When I go that far I don’t normally take her with anyway. She dawdles too much along the way. I should take a cue from her on how to investigate everything one finds along the way, even if her main interest is lizards.

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