Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2008, vol 6 no 1


Family Visit
Joyce Hildebrand


The engines reverse with a roar as wheels meet tarmac under a grey winter sky. I think of the angry words during my last visit, too long ago — my parents and brother on one side, me on the other.

On the other side of the sliding doors, they're waiting. Three years. I notice the sag of Dad's shoulders, the crease of tension around my mother's eyes. Mom gives me an awkward hug.

My brother arrives for dinner with his wife and baby. The last time was just before his diagnosis — no visible signs, but he knew something wasn't right. Now his consonants and vowels melt into each another; his left arm hangs at his side. There is resignation in his eyes. But their talk, as always, is about money — the resale value of their homes; the price of hogs; pensions, taxes, savings.

my niece's gummy grin
her fingers
tangled in my hair

At the airport, the doors slide shut behind me.


name Joyce Hildebrand works as a conservation specialist and magazine editor for the Alberta Wilderness Association. She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her dog, Dora, and loves the wild places not far from her home — the Rockies, the prairies and the foothills. Although she has published many articles related to environmental issues, a year ago she had never heard the word "haibun."