Tanka Prose

May 31, 2012 Comments Off on Tanka Prose

We are beginning to explore haibun and tanka prose.  As we understand it, haibun combines prose and haiku while tanka prose combines prose and tanka.  Our research reveals various definitions of theses forms.  The relationship between the prose and the poem or poems are significant.  Perhaps the poem clarifies the insight of the writer, bringing home the revelation.   Or the poem shifts in a meaningful and mysterious way leading the reader to participate and reflect.  One thing is certain.  Like other short forms, no word is wasted.  As we practice, we will share our discoveries.  We invite your efforts and would be grateful for submissions from experienced poets who might care to show us how it’s done.

The Girl Who Sings

In my thirties I worked at a university counseling center.  Most of my patients were undergraduate students.  Tales of leaving home, making friends, finding love and choosing a path were spun out hour by hour in my pretty, windowed office.  One girl’s struggle in particular was memorable to me.  She had the soft, freckled face of a child just beginning to emerge into womanhood.  Her slight figure had the skittish aspect of a deer pursued by some danger.

Her mother had died several years earlier.  She had a younger brother of about twelve.  The father didn’t sound like much of a prize.  According to her he drank and had periodic fits of bad temper.  Often she slept on the couch to place herself between her brother’s bedroom and the door through which her father would enter.  Remarkably, her mother’s grave lay just behind their house and was visible from the girl’s window.

within view
of their mother’s stone
two children grow

The problem the young lady came in to discuss was the tension between her desire to transfer to a music college and her worry for her brother who she would have to leave in order to do so.  She told me about the musicians she admired, shifting in her seat to demonstrate the lively movements of a singer on her piano bench.  Dancing in her chair, her face was animated, her eyes bright.  In just a beat her face darkened but without resentment.  She said only, “but really, I can’t go.”

she wants to sing
her own words on stage
how can I tell her
that she
already does?

Leslie Ihde

edited from the published version appearing in LYNX, June 2012


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