Posts Tagged ‘a Japanese literary form’

Haibun: The Mermaid

May 27, 2020

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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