(Haibun for Keiko)
by Andrena Zawinski
The truth is not always beautiful,
nor beautiful words the truth.––Lao Tzu
She is soon to board the plane for Osaka, and you try to avoid
farewells. She is returning, after thirty years, to her childhood
home to nurse the ailing mother––oya koko, filial piety, she
reminds with a stern stare. Later you will learn the return is really
for her own care, these her own last days.
You lop off the American Beauty blooms, plop them into the
seamless goldfish bowl she brings on her last visit. There is also
the single teacup whose lip, she says, is delicate as a woman’s kiss.
Dressed the way you have never seen her before––blue kimono
under haori stitched in silver apple blossoms, phoenix fan in the
pocket––she slips out of the coat, carefully folds and smooths it,
places it ceremoniously into your outstretched arms.
The roses remain for a time, then spent, wilting petals drop down
onto the furoshiki square she once wrapped around large bowls of
salmon and seaweed in sweet rice––its slender cranes winging
the edges toward some unseen distance. The rose scent lingers,
even as the sight of her begins to dim.
a red winged blackbird
blazes skyward like a sword
* * * * *
"Last Gifts" was first published in Lilipoh: The Spirit in Life Magazine
Andrena Zawinski is a veteran educator and activist poet whose work has received accolades for lyricism, form, spirituality, and social concern. Her latest collection is Landings. She has two previous award winning books: Something About and Traveling in Reflected Light. She runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com. Her poems, “When Paris Was a Woman” and “Never the Right Recipe” previously appeared at Writing in a Woman’s Voice.