Punctum

First published in Contemporary Haibun Online 12:3, October 2016. Originally written in December 2009. This haibun won first prize in the 2013 Jerry Kilbride Memorial English-Language Haibun Contest, sponsored by the Central Valley Haiku Club in Sacramento, California.       +

        for Jerry Kilbride, 25 February 1930 – 3 November 2005

Six months after you died, a package comes in the mail. A heavy box from your library, sent by a mutual friend, a set of hardbacks, some of them first editions, by Denton Welch. You wanted me to have them. And though I lived two states away, you found a way to touch me after cancer.

                rain starting—
                the date of newspapers
                crumpled in the box

A novel among the books falls open to Chapter 17. There, a ticket stub from 1968, London. I think about what you saw, who you went with, or if you went alone. How we would see a movie or concert together now and then, and how many friends you did that with, in San Francisco, Chicago, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur. Week after week, decade after decade.

                traces of frost—
                a wood duck decoy
                rotting in the weeds

And then, Chapter 21, by a paragraph about spring, another punctum, surely from Hyde Park, or Kensington Garden, that year you knocked on Denton’s door and made friends with the artist and her husband who live there still.

                marking a page
                for forty years
                your still-green leaf