Nature – angel or demon, and the haibun storyteller

When Nature has something to say, she does not hesitate as we well know. There is no-one or nothing crueller. Then again, there is no-one or nothing more beautiful in the comeback. If it sounds like I think of Nature as a person, I do. As a child, I grew up on stories of the Gods both Greek and Roman. Later I added Norse Gods. All of them had one thing in common – an awe of Nature.

Like most writers dramatic events give rise to the desire to create pictures in words. Whilst the emphasis is currently on Covid I personally have not been able to get the images of the bushfires out of my mind. Australia is notorious for droughts and bushfires, not that we are unique in this. However, over the last few years Australia has experienced its fair share of Nature’s more demonic behaviours. Fortunately, the angelic side manages to surface and bring with it an incredible resilience not only in the land but in the people who call it their home. This is followed by an immense generosity by people from all walks of life who contribute as best they can, to those suddenly in dire need.

With the often selfish behaviours displayed by some during Covid, a reminder of the good we humans are capable of, is welcome. Australia has been renown for our ‘indomitable spirit’ and for ‘mateship’. Covid behaviour is putting a huge blight on what has always been a source of pride – our ability to get in and do what needs doing. Consequently, I found myself inspired to write about that spirit and its relationship to Nature’s fickle behaviours – her duality, the constant give and take of the demon and the angel.

For a long time, I have been fascinated by Japanese poetry particularly with haiku, the tanka and my favourite, the haibun. For those unfamiliar with this form, I won’t presume to explain as I am far from an expert. However, I can attempt a brief outline of what to expect. Haibun is a wonderful ‘storyteller’. This short piece of prose combines with either a tanka or a haiku, or often both to heighten the emotional tug to the chosen subject. A tanka is a Japanese poem of five lines. A haiku has three. Both poems have constraints of sorts, mostly in the syllable count. Though a discipline remains in place, the rules these days are a little more flexible.

In a haibun the forms the poet draws together need only to strengthen a common theme. The meaning, or essence is what matters, not a replication of the theme. New to the art I submitted with great trepidation to Drifting Sands, a Canadian Journal of Haibun and Tanka Prose and was fortunate enough to have my submission accepted. The following is a link to Issue 10 of Drifting Sands, July 2021, the online magazine in which Drought Country first appeared.

You can choose to follow the link or listen to a recording or just read. I hope you enjoy my tribute to the spirit of Australia and its inhabitants and of course to Nature. Don’t be afraid to comment. It helps me to grow.

Drought Country

embers flutter

foreshadowing flames –

Mercurian wings

for the manic beast

ravaging the land

My man’s wrinkles are deep-set. They add to his character. Mine are not as kindly disposed, though I don’t think he minds. His fingers link with mine. I squeeze them gently and he leans closer; his stubbled chin brushes my cheek. Like the flame of the gas burner, my heart flickers, and leaps.

Tent life has brought us closer. The discomfort of an old mattress and the few meagre remains the fire’s rage allowed us, is a small price to pay. He catches my gaze and his face creases into that familiar smile. We are still here.

brave fragile shoots

battle blackened earth—

nature’s medicine

salving recent memories

of that summer

Till next time,


Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? Leave a comment and I will get back to you. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for the images.

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One Comment

  1. Pingback: Memories, and the ghosts who come to visit bringing a haibun - Barbara Strickland - Author & Blogger

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