First published in Frogpond 18:3, Autumn 1995, page 39. Written at LitEruption in Portland, Oregon in 1994, in a haibun workshop led by Margaret Chula. The opening poem is from Haiku, Volume 4, by R. H. Blyth. Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1952, 1982, page 1119. I originally attributed the “white chrysanthemum” poem to Buson, as Blyth does (as have other subsequent translators, seeming to perpetuate Blyth’s error), but the poem is actually by Natsume Sōseki—see Sōiku Shigematsu’s Zen Haiku: Poems and Letters of Natsume Sōseki, New York, Weatherhill, 1994, page 84. See also “Sōseki, not Buson: Attributing the White Chrysanthemum.”

before the white chrysanthemum

the scissors hesitate

a moment


Natsume Sōseki


All at once it comes to me that flowers should be thankful for doorbells. My sandalled feet shuffle to the door to admit my girlfriend. She comes in with the sunlight dappled by the ivy around the porch and trellis, then we leave the sun and move into the kitchen.

        “I have chrysanthemums for you,” I begin. “I was just about to trim them and put them in a vase.” She walks around the kitchen table to me, and wraps her arms around my neck.


and still we kiss—

scissors clatter

from the table to the floor

Michael Dylan Welch