James extended the wooden ladder against the side of their house, its gutter bursting with leaves being washed away from their summer resting place. He was racing against time, the elements and his wife’s contractions. Alice was at the Royal, 14 hours into labour. The sudden wild, torrential rain had given James reprieve from his helpless, emasculated presence at her hospital bedside.
Be back soon love, before junior makes his entrance he’d said to Alice, kissing her tenderly on the forehead, feeling the dampness of the sweat that held her brown hair in a swirl against her furrowed skin. He was sure it would be a boy.
Atop the ladder, investigating the haphazard clutter of broken roof tiles, James tentatively placed one sturdy, muddied, lace-less boot, testing his luck in balance and the tile’s sturdiness in support. Sure enough of his agility, James took the next step, this time relaxed and ready to patch up the jigsaw. The rain was falling heavier, a rhythmic beat of drops plummeting on tiles, bouncing off the edge of one to the next, mirroring James’ steps. Reaching out at an angle, heaving with the strain, his clothes now heavy with the weight of the wet fabric, he managed to hold and re-position a wayward tile.
Gotcha! he said, and as though it were an exclamation mark through the skies, lightning struck. The last brilliant light James would see. It was only sounds that followed next. Thunder, thud of a young man crashing against the re-arranged tiles, rolling at the angles dictated by their placement. An ambulance in the distance and at the Royal, a pained grunt and last push, a brief silent pause and the first cry of a wrinkled, bloodied Mildred James Winter greeting the new world. Not a boy.
ominous flash strikes
an end to lightening thoughts
reign dance on roof tiles
new born cries, soul migration
closed circle, life at death’s cusp
A tanka in response to the two word prompt (flash, dance) courtesy of Rononvan Writes’ weekly haiku poetry prompt challenge. One of my favourite films (or maybe most watched) growing up was Flash Dance, so I had to tame the urge to write an ode to the film with this prompt. Instead, I’ve tried to capture the feel of the exploratory scene which inspired the novel I am working on (currently at the midpoint in the second draft of the synopsis). What a feeling! being’s believin’ I can have it all now I’m dancing for my life… right, off to audition- I mean weld, no, I mean write. One life goal at a time…
Burning question: if a haibun is prose with a haiku, is it safe to say that prose with a tanka is a tanbun?