(“Hummers” …watercolor, with gold leaf, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003)
Over at dversepoets pub, it is Haibun Monday, and Bjorn is presenting the challenge of haiga. A painting or illustration that relates to the haiku written. Though this painting of mine might seem scant in relating to the Haibun/haiku below….It does. At least to me. The Haibun describes a father’s love, the wars of childhood, and the painting? His three children: little Hummers which he used to call us. For those who don’t know birds….Hummers are fierce. They are tiny but survive because of their tenacity. Sort of like children when we have to.
Haibun: Birthday Party
Mean, spoiled Nancy Madsen was having her 10th birthday party. Nancy was always turned out in pretty dresses, with petticoats and a clean face. She had blond curly hair, like Shirley Temple, except without the talent. She was the youngest of three, so her mother took special care with her. My mother? Not so much. I was left to my own devices, and those weren’t always the best. There was no fairy godmother hovering over me.
I was sitting on a stool, stupidly too near the drop off onto the road beneath. I was taking a back seat, trying to disappear. Nancy’s mother didn’t like me much. Her dog, Freckles, a Dalmatian, had bit me in the eye the year before. She blamed me for ‘disturbing his nap.’ Back then there were no lawsuits or doctor visits for this ‘small stuff’. You had iodine slapped on the wound and went back to play. I remember being uneasy about her party, as my mother picked the gift herself. I didn’t know what she had wrapped up in gift paper. I was hoping it wasn’t my Betsy-Wetsy doll.
Nancy floated around the tables, playing birthday diva. She decided to sit on me. A big mistake for a lot of reasons, two of which I remember: One, I was deathly afraid Nancy would tip us over the cliff, and two….she was fat. I thought I wouldn’t survive this. I couldn’t breathe.
So I bit her. In the back. Nancy leaped up screaming and a general riot broke out. I couldn’t get to why I had bit her, but by the faces of the adults I knew I was no longer welcome.
My father ordered me to the car. I went, weeping, sitting in the back of the old Studebaker station wagon. I was very worried, mostly about the anger from my mother as soon as she heard what her only daughter had done. Not that she liked any of the adults at the party, and it was generally mutual, but it clearly was another failing of a daughter she really didn’t care for.
My father approached the car, his face beaming. “We won’t tell your mother about this. Let’s go get some Breyer’s ice cream.”
This wasn’t the first time my father stuck up for me. We were in a secret war against my mother until he died. He was my best friend though I didn’t appreciate it then. I do now.
Childhood is tough
Adults are the enemy
Kids fodder for wars