Martin Luther King Day 2020

a robin

flying from frozen boughs

winter plumage

alighting on the feeder

covered with snow

This morning scene reminds me to fill the seed bucket, put on my boots and wade out to top up the feeders.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King day in the United States. From Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge I learned that this holiday is designated as a day of service—a ‘day on’ rather than a ‘day off’, inspired by Doctor Reverend King Junior’s example and praise of community service: “He who is greatest among you shall be a servant.”

My first impulse was to dust off my dormant question “should I take on a volunteer job?” On reflection, my view of service, in general, and my own service, in particular, has deepened. Many of us, including myself, care for immediate and extended families. Yet there is another kind of service that extends into the community, outside our homes. ‘Out there’ are more people, trees, meadows, roadways, recycle bins, wildlife, wandering pets and so on. Without taking on a job there are many opportunities to act for the benefit of our world—to give, to protect, to show by our actions that we care about all humans and the world we depend on, whether natural or manmade. That sense of the collective is what I take away from this Martin Luther King day, an appreciation of what I already do and the humility to know that more is a possibility.

©️2020 Ontheland

another year – – tanka

another year

another decade behind

what is to come

the sun will rise once more

we will eat…play…love

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©️2019 Ontheland

Haikai Challenge #119 – – new year. This is my wish for everyone in the new year—to have the privilege of food, and safety to play and love. The last line of the tanka borrows from the title of a book and movie by Elizabeth Gilbert.

sentience – – haibun

“…we took rooms at an inn with…Mr. Kansho, who was in town to attend memorial services for the haiku poet Issho, locally renowned for his verse and devotion to craft. The poet’s elder brother served as host, the poet having died last winter.

Tremble, oh my grave–

in time my cries will be

only this autumn wind”

Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamill, the Essential Basho, p. 29-30; an excerpt from Frank Tassone’s selection for Day 20 of November with Basho

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Matsuo Basho had no idea that his words would still be known and cherished, in Japan and beyond, over 300 years after his death.

sentience

a window in time

open until

consciousness

returns to the wind

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©️2019 Ontheland

clouds gathering – – tanka

“After several days, clouds gathering over the North Road, we left Sakata reluctantly, aching at the thought of a hundred thirty miles to the provincial capital of Kaga. We crossed the Nezu Barrier into Echigo Province, and from there went on to Ichiburi Barrier in Etchu, restating our resolve all along the way. Through nine hellish days of heat and rain, all my old maladies tormenting me again, feverish and weak, I could not write.

Altair meets Vega

tomorrow–Tanabata–

already the night is changed”

Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamill, the Essential Basho, p. 27-28…quote selected by Frank Tassone for Day 19 of November with Basho

Suddenly this passage from Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior sinks in. After a gruelling day on the road, Basho’s spirits lift as he remembers that the next day is a special festival (Tanabata) celebrating the annual reunion of two lovers. For a response, I wrote a tanka finding words from Basho’s haibun for the first three lines:

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clouds

gathering along the way

through heat and rain

tasting salt on our lips

the sea we left miles behind

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©️2019 Ontheland

Tanabata Festival, woodcut by Ando, Hiroshiga