I’d stopped writing haibun for a while. It was that moment thing. Every time I tried to write in the moment I found it difficult—nay, impossible—to stay in it. All sorts of ideas bubbled up: memories, associations, judgments; my need to appear clever. I wrote about the past, about objects, about regrets that sat in the heart like stones. Too much luggage, too much heaviness, too much of this world. Weighed down I stopped. I hoped for a prompt, a muse who would give me the push I needed.
Then one day, in Finsbury Park, sharing a bench with a woman talking to herself, my wish was granted. Dishevelled, wild-eyed, looking at all directions at once, thin as if she never ate, muscle fibers moving all at once, mumbling continuously. She turned and took a quick look at me, fell silent for what must have been a whole minute, and then started again. I tried to make out what she was saying. I realized she was reciting Homer’s Odyssey. In ancient Greek! I tried to follow. I could not make out whole passages, got lost in translation then caught up with her again. The holes in the recitation made by my absences did not matter. I sat with her for a long time. Darkness fell without me realising. A chill crept up from the soil. The sounds of the city surrounding the Park changed to an indeterminate, persistent buzz. Dark figures approached and slank away. Every now and then she wiped her nose, rubbed her forehead, played with her earring. I followed her recital long into the night. Long after the guards locked the Park gates and the full moon bathed us in silver.
deeper than the wine-dark sea urchins
Haibun Today, Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017