I’ve never visited Caledonia State Park on purpose.
Someday I’ll spend the day there – alone and with the “real” camera! – but so far my visits have consisted of stolen hours on my way to or from someplace else. On a snowy day voices seem to call from the snow-coated trees: “Come walk a little! Stop the car! Stop now! C’mon!”
Not to stop feels like an insult to the forest.
It makes me squirm inside.
hissing under the tires –
restless . . . restless . . .
Of course I stop. I park at the furnace ruins where the stone has a coldness peculiar to old monuments. And what an odd color – not really green, not really gray. Even though the stone furnace was built with rock from the neighboring creek it feels foreign and imposing.
after cold hands and mortar –
never the same
The furnace is a gritty place, littered with twigs and pine tips. But – the furnace is built into the hillside – and trees are reclaiming this little corner of the park. Without the intense heat and traffic that comes from an iron furnace the trees now tower over the cold stone. When the tiny branches of the smaller trees are covered in snow, it is as if the hillside is covered in lace.
And when I look to these lacy hillsides I feel energy shoot from foot to scalp!
amid snow-plastered trunks –
I turn my back to the cold stone furnace and merge with the first portion of the Charcoal Hearth Trail – and suddenly I’m walking through a lace veil! It’s a bit of a steep climb for someone with a prosthetic leg and I’m grateful for a bit of railing.
After fighting to the top of the hill I find a magnificent little waterfall. Magnificent? And little? Yes. It’s full of life and bounce and sound – full of little spray-throwing rocks – full of little corners that snag twigs and make the water sing. And in winter it seems like the purest water on earth.
It has to be.
plunging from creeksicles –
Milky Way in Peeay
And this is when I remember that this is a stolen moment. And it hurts. The beauty of this little spot becomes unbearable.
I vow to come back – tomorrow, the next day, the next appointment – but always – when I return it’s another unplanned and stolen hour on my way to somewhere else.
one sycamore leaf
caught at the foot of the falls –
neither here nor there
Linked to Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #40: A Winter Kikôbun.
Professor Peipei Qiu (author of Bashô and the Dao) says the following about kikôbun:
‛The Japanese literary travel journal (kikôbun) has been closely related to poetry. It characteristically weaves poems and the introductory narratives in a sequential order. The travel journals that existed before Bashô were often written in a first-person voice, with the traveler’s itinerary revolving around the classical poetic toponym (Utamakura or Meisho) and the narrative centering on poems composed about them. This fusion with poetry simultaneously enriched and limited the literary representation of the landscape of the kikôbun; when centering on classical poetic diction, the geographical imagination of the travel journal was often defined by conceptions and conventions that had been molded by classical poetry rather than by the physical qualities of landscape.’
I researched “Utamakura” and “Meisho”. Utamakura means “poem pillow” and refers to “famous places associated with sacred and historic sites”. Meisho also means “famous places” but it refers to places with poetic or literary references. Not only do Utamakura and Meisho appear in poetry and literature, they also appear in dance, theater, ukiyo-e, and other visual arts. Utamakura and Meisho are loaded with symbolic meaning – they allow the writer to add extra layers of meaning.
In the United States, “Wounded Knee” and “Gettysburg” might be examples of Utamakura and “Sleepy Hollow” might be an example of Meisho. No matter what you write about a visit to Wounded Knee, Gettysburg, or Sleepy Hollow, your writing will be colored by historical and literary allusions – intended or not – just by mentioning these places. You cannot help it. Even in my own haiku and haibun, if I write about beautiful flowers at Gettysburg, the writing automatically takes on a tinge of death just by my saying that the flowers are in Gettysburg. This can be both helpful and a hindrance.
* Kikôbun is structured somewhat like a haibun – it is a passage of prose with at least one short poem (haiku or tanka);
* Kikôbun features landscape and nature, as well as an interaction between the writer and the landscape;
* Kikôbun is a short travel diary, so it involves the journey and the observations of the writer as traveler;
* In kikôbun, the haiku (or tanka) should not repeat what is in the prose or create a conclusion to the prose;
* Kikôbun should probably avoid the limitations of Utamakura and Meisho – you want to explore and record your observations of place – not classical expectations, formulas, or literary allusions to place.
In looking at my kikôbun I may have failed a bit — first of all, I’m not interacting with the landscape enough, and second, my ending haiku feels like a conclusion. But — hopefully it’s close to the prompt’s intent, anyway.
Here are photos of the places in the kikôbun: