Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Autumn 2007, vol 5 no 3


Opera House
Sharon Dean


A small country airport. My sons and I board the plane, settle into our seats. We've barely buckled our belts when the cabin fills with smoke and we're asked to disembark. One of the engines has blown.

our shoes raising
small clouds of dust --
bell birds

It's five hours until a replacement flight is scheduled. Once we touch down in Sydney, we'll have missed our connecting flight home.

We arrange to stay with Lizzie, an inner-city friend. She picks us up from the airport in her silver BMW.

"How fabulous your flight doesn't leave until tomorrow afternoon," she says. "We'll have the whole morning to explore. Where would you most like to go?"

Without hesitating, twelve-year-old Ashlin answers, "The Sydney Opera House!"

"We could swing by there now," Lizzie says, "but I've been invited out for dinner and it's getting late. We'll go tomorrow."

But the next morning Lizzie sleeps in. Spends two hours cooking us a delicious breakfast. Neighbours drop around. We help create a new garden bed.

salad sandwich
a blowfly takes off
from my plate

By the time everyone's ready to leave, it's early afternoon.

"Looks like we won't have time to visit the Opera House after all," Lizzie says as we speed towards the airport. "But if we drive over the Harbour Bridge on our way," she tells Ashlin, "you'll be able to see it from there."

As we approach the bridge, however, huge electronic signs inform us to expect delays if we take that route. A demonstration march is in progress.

"We'll have to take the tunnel," Lizzie informs us. "But don't worry, you'll get a spectacular view of the Opera House from the plane."

We make it to the airport with only minutes to spare. Moving towards the back of the aircraft, the boys and I jostle one another, quietly staging a mock quarrel over who'll get the window seat.

But our boarding passes indicate an inconvenient truth: our seats are right at the back of the plane, opposite the loos. Where we'd expected to find a window, we're confronted by a brown plastic wall.

The kids crack jokes about our ridiculous run of bad luck, but when I glance across at Ashlin I see a tear making its way down his face. I put my arm around his shoulder, promise we'll return to the city one day soon.

The plane takes off. We try to ignore the ooohs and ahhhs of the other passengers as they marvel at the scenery below.

I reach for my novel. My youngest son opens a bag of chips. Ashlin flicks through the in-flight magazine.


Ashlin is holding the magazine open against the wall where the window should have been. And on the page? A full-colour image of the Sydney Opera House, the glossy white tiles of its shell-shaped roofs blinking in the sunlight.

The kids and I emit theatrical ooohs and ahhhs until an air steward wanders over to see what all the fuss is about.

a ship at full sail
no edge to the shimmering

Sharon Dean Sharon Dean lives on the far north coast of New South Wales, Australia. You can find her haiku and related work in journals such as contemporary haibun online, Famous Reporter, FreeXpresSion, and Stylus Poetry Journal. Sharon's haiku have recently been published in sand between the toes: a haiku journey through byron bay & beyond, a book/CD launched by Dangerously Poetic Press, and one will soon appear on the digital screens of Brisbane's 'City Cats' river ferries as part of a virtual poetry anthology created by the directors of this year's Queensland Poetry Festival.