Excerpt from “Driftwood” © Cynthia Rowe, 2010

DriftwoodDriftwood comprises a collection of Cynthia’s poetry which has won awards or been previously published in literary magazines and anthologies both in Australia and overseas. Many of the haiku and tanka in this volume have been translated into other languages. The ancient Japanese forms of haiku, senryu, tanka and haibun are extensively represented, together with free verse and other traditional poetic structures such as tetractys and cinquain.

rough seas
driftwood encased
in sea spray

Rose Garden – a tanka sequence

every day
my neighbour visits his wife
holds her hand, chats –
on her demise
he’s still there … holding, chatting

two pages
stuck together
in his eulogy
he mentions her good works …
forgets about their children

her ashes
in the rose garden
he informs me the flowers
will blossom from her spirit

Today Larousse – haibun

I assess the shadows beneath her eyes, evident since the first day of this semester. The sandy blonde pelt of her head is as matted as the tricot she wears. The ever-fading pattern, paler than pale, is threadbare on the elbows. The grey of her school shirt etches those elbows, already stripped of baby fat. A smear of food encrusts the right cuff. Pumpkin, turnip, maybe pickle from a birthday Big Mac? She hands me a note, ostensibly written by a father I’ve never met. A slipped stitch shows on her waistband. I edge between the rows of desks, pocketing the latest excuse. The words are sketchy, the ink smudged. Her singed eyebrows whisper of things I’d rather not know. I gather up the class sets, today Larousse.

wintry day
the smell of rain
on a pink sweater

smouldering embers – a haiku sequence

leaps … retreats
hurdles the outhouse

burnt homestead
a red toy car

pile of rubble
the survivor sobs
on his mate’s shoulder

ground zero
sun tips the wings
of a white dove

Under the clocks

Ribbons of cars glide by in the wet.
Within the eyebrow of time
above the station maw,
minutes click over.

She waits,
eyes scanning the crowd.
Across the busy intersection,
cathedral spires tower.
Trains rumble off,
horns ululating through the dank air.

She frowns,
checks the hands.
Shoe tapping, the drum sound slows
to gentle disappointment.

New train throbs in,
disgorging a fresh load of passengers.
Hair flying,
scarf thrashing,
he skids to a halt before her,
kisses the cold cheek now grown warm.

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