Haibun: The Mermaid

This Haibun is from ‘Memories of a Rotten Childhood” not yet published

Haibun: The Mermaid


The ‘50’s was a time of Mickie Mantle vs. Marilyn Monroe, Better Red than Dead, or Dead than Red, confusing for children as we didn’t understand ‘why’ we were to change color.  The ‘50’s was surviving the drunken kindness of a father and the sober malice of a mother, with all of us siblings carrying water to both.

Second grade and I remember tall windows that cranked out at chest height but only the teacher was allowed to touch the crank and the smell of ages: mold, asbestos and lead paint was a constant in our tender lives.

I remember being given a small lump of grey/green clay for ‘arts and crafts’.  I remember the mermaid I molded:  rolled clay for hair and arms, perky breasts, a split tail. I used my fingernail to make scales.  I remember old Mrs. Hoephner coming down the aisle, her knarled hands balled into fists, her grimace, her white hair floating like a wrath around her head and she saw my mermaid and stomped it flat with her fist.

Five decades later, I made that same mermaid, (I hadn’t progressed far with clay,) but this time, I glazed her shiny and she visited the fire and I gave her a crown of thorns.  Again,  I saw old Mrs. Hoephner, crabby old woman long dead, coming to my desk and Thump This, you old bat, you destroyer of a child’s imagination and you will be wearing that crown of thorns.



Such a fragile thing.

Child’s salvation


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016-2020

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6 Responses to “Haibun: The Mermaid”

  1. Frank J. Tassone Says:

    Reblogged this on Frank J. Tassone and commented:
    #Haiku Happenings #4: Jane Kohut-Bartels’ #haibun “The Mermaid”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Frank. As I explore the beauty of Haibuns….I am falling in love with the form. Interesting, though, the earliest of haibun were not short! LOL. My favorite form of late.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. petrujviljoen Says:

    I commented on a post by Jane Dougherty. I admit to forgetting the exact content but it had to do with her daughter’s artwork being slammed by a teacher. I was surprised at the vehemence with which I told my own tale at the hands of a teacher. And now this. One doesn’t get over these slights.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ladynyo Says:

    No, Petru…one doesn’t. It scars and follows you subconsciously. I would like to read your own experience. did you post it on your site? please let me know where i can read it. xox


  5. petrujviljoen Says:

    No I haven’t. But will and will let you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ladynyo Says:

    good and thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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