Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 4, December 2010

Susan Richardson
Cardiff, Wales



I’ve fled the crowds and horse-drawn carriages and fabled gables of Bruges in favour of this village six miles to the north. Here, I’m in polder country—pollarded trees, their bare arms stretching forth from knotted shoulders, grow tall on reclaimed land, while boats on frozen canals are stranded mid-bob. I wander along cobbled streets past scores of small second-hand bookstores, for Damme’s been branded the Book Town of Flanders. Most are closed today, as it’s January 1st, a moment for looking forward with hope to the year ahead—only I’m still looking backwards with despair to the meal I ate in Ghent three evenings ago.

windmill blades
slicing the space between neck
and navel

I find just one café open—a heated refuge from the wind hustling in off the North Sea. My tea comes served in a glass cup on a leaf-shaped saucer with a complementary portion of chocolate mousse. For three days I’ve ingested nothing but dry crackers and water so I approach with caution. Dip my fingertip in. Give a tentative lick.  It’s rich, chilled, December-dark—I’m eating deepest winter.

gut ache ebbs—
each spoon
a reclamation


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