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


Miss Pett's Irish Dancers
Patricia Prime


The concert has already started when we enter the rest home. An aide tells us that the residents are very tired, as they had to be taken from their beds early in the morning because there was a fire alarm. My friend's 95 year-old mother has a front row seat. I catch her eye and she gives me a smile and a wave. We have to sit at the back of the room and all we can see are the stiff arms of the dancers, aged between five and fifteen, and their bobbing heads. The girls are wearing black dresses embroidered in green and red with scarlet underskirts and capes. When the dancing ends, a group playing fiddles strike up a medley of Irish jigs and well-worn songs in which everyone joins.

cold winter day
a moment of hesitation
recalling a tune

An elderly man lying on a day bed clutches the arm of an attractive young woman. "I want to go home", he says. "I'm not a nurse", she replies. "You'll have to wait for an aide. It won't be long. It's almost lunchtime."

We pick up Molly to take her home for lunch. "I don't know you", she says to me, "although I saw you wave. Do you remember me? What day is it? What did I do yesterday?" I ask her about the fire alarm. "I don't know anything about it. I don't remember. We came here." She has no words for things. No names. The names of things fly in and hover, light as mayflies, skimming the river of her mind, the hill of remembrance. They shift shape like the Irish dancers, and become other things. The river is black and deep, the hill unsurmountable and words pop up in odd places, as if they have been forgotten completely.

memory loss –
she notices
the stillness of trees


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.