Wednesday, May 21, 2008



Antibes Journal
UK Correspondent: Lynne Rees


55 years of marriage
my dad falls asleep
before we cut the cake

My mother has angina, osteoporosis and Raynaud’s Syndrome. On the telephone her voice sounds broken, but she doesn’t know why.

I am moving 1,000 miles away from my parents at a time in their life when they could need me more than ever.

My mother will die before my father. Even though he is almost deaf he will move around the house listening for her. Sometimes he will call her name, then wait.


Moving house is no.5 on a list of stressful life events. I don’t think this includes moving to another country where you don’t speak the language and so many ordinary things you’ve taken for granted – making phone calls, getting house insurance or keys cut, knowing that the words you need to get through the day are already there, waiting for you to call on them – become small mountains to conquer, or at least to begin ascending.

top ten stress busters
get enough rest and sleep
positive thinking
reach out to others
achieve a good work life balance
eat a healthy diet
seek professional help

I draw myself
a happy face


The light here continually surprises me. It illuminates ordinary things: edges of buildings, reflections in shop windows, my hands. This is what getting old means, I think, when I look at them. But maybe if I could magnify the skin I’d see the life I’ve lived filling every fissure and wrinkle. I have been lucky.

the golden belly
of a gull


sun along the shore
even the grey cockle shells
surprise me

It has taken me thirty years to return to the sea. Here, on the Côte d’Azur, the water shifts through a palette of blues and greens, unlike the sea along the coast of South Wales, that steadfastly maintained its shade of gunmetal grey regardless of the season.

My parents still live in the house where I was born fifty years ago. When I go back, I return to the place where I took my first breath of salt-air.


an egret’s feather
in the pages of my book –
a drift of snow

I remember the hard winter of ’63. I remember standing on the sofa staring out at the falling snow: Chrome Avenue, its pavements and gardens all hidden. But who is watching this little girl in the plaid pleated skirt with all her weight on her finger tips pressed onto the back of the sofa? If it was a true memory wouldn’t I only see the view through the window? How much of my past is invented, imagined?

The peaks of the Alpes Maritimes are still scattered with snow, while on the beach at the end of the road, people are pick-nicking, playing Frisbee, taking their first swims of the year. The bakery is now open every day of the week until the end of September. Each morning the pavement tables are full of baskets of croissants, white china coffee cups, women with small dogs, couples on holiday content to just sit and stare out to sea.


The maçon has knocked a hole in the wall of the dressing room to make a second bathroom and the 1st floor landing is flooded with sunlight as it has never been since the house was built over a hundred years ago, and, from where I am at the top of the stairs, I can see through to the window at the other end of the room, out to the leafing plane trees, the rough trunk of the big palm. Plaster dust swirls in the air in front of me, to move forward I have to step over bags of rubble, past the shattered edges of brick, but none of this matters when light unexpectedly greets you.

our English neighbour
complains about the rats
wisteria in bloom


Three sad and beautiful things:

a stray, pregnant cat at the autoroute rest area
the smell of the sea mixed with the smell of jasmine
the sound of the word echantillon.

under the bed our sandals
press toe to toe


by Lynne Rees
Antibes, France
haiku credits:
was commended in the miniwords 2007 competition
sun along the shore was first published in The Heron’s Nest,December 2006
an egret’s feather
was first published in haiku harvest, vol 6 no 1

1 comment:

Alan Summers said...

I like the fact that this is a long haibun. If moving house is way down as no.5 (and to another country where you don't speak the language) what the heck are the first four! ;-)

Good straightforward prose, not truncated, just natural, which makes the haibun a pleasure to read, and open to readers who may have vaguely heard of haiku but certainly not haibun.

I love the condensation haiku!

all my best,

Just days away to the deadline!
The With Words International Online Haiku Competition
Half of the profits for a literacy project with children in Africa (tba shortly).