Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2007, vol 5 no 4


The Un-birthday
Patricia Prime


It's my friend's birthday. We make a two-hour drive to Matamata to have lunch at her son and daughter-in-law's house. Their three teenage daughters meet us at the door. "Close your eyes, Granny. We've got a big surprise for you!" Inside the table is laid with a starched white cloth, gleaming plates and cutlery. Coloured balloons at each setting. "Happy 70th," they chortle. "But I'm only 69," protests my friend. The girls are disappointed, as they've gone to so much trouble for this "special" birthday. "Never mind. I can celebrate being 70 every year, if I'm to be spoiled like this." "But I'm 70, aren't I?" questions great-granny. "No, Mum, you're about to be 95," says her daughter.

The girls have prepared everything: vegetable soup, five varieties of pizza, apple and blackberry shortcake and the piece de resistance - a birthday cake in the shape of a poodle, decorated with tiny pink and white marshmallows to represent its curly coat.

After lunch we take a walk through the neighbour's property. (They are away on holiday.) It's an extensive section with a vast expanse of green lawn surrounded by beautiful old trees: oaks, silver birch, eucalypts. Clumps of daffodils are beginning to flower. There are scarlet and pink rhododendrons and magnolias, too. The teenagers cartwheel on the grass, while granny and great-granny examine the mosaic birdbaths and the sunken garden.

Inside the girls perform their party pieces: one plays the piano, another her violin and the youngest gives a lovely rendition of "Maria" from West Side Story. Then it's time for us to leave and get great-granny back to her rest home in time for her evening meal.

trying to escape
from the car trunk
helium balloons


Patricia Prime has recently retired after 30 years of teaching and is now involved in the reading recovery programme at her local primary school. She is co-editor of the New Zealand haiku magazine Kokako and reviews editor of the online magazine Stylus. She writes short stories, poetry, articles, reviews and interviews and also enjoys collaborating on poems with other poets. Recently she completed a renku called "Saint Brigid's Day" with UK poet John Carley and Irish poet Norman Darlington, which will appear in the next issue of Kokako. One of her haibun appears in the latest edition of Contemporary Haibun, Volume 6. Patricia has worked hard to have Japanese poetry forms accepted in mainstream poetry journals and has been successful in one or two cases.