Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2008, vol 6 no 2


Harbour Lights
David Cobb


          the erotic
          rocking chair

She came for the summer holidays from South Wales, a place that seemed far away and very exotic to me then, and stayed with her Welsh aunt and a cousin in the house next door but one. On first hearing her name I thought it was Mary Mouse.

Every evening we raced each other across the meadows to see the blue-and-white locomotive hurtle past on its headlining charge towards the Scottish Glens. Standing on the Iron Bridge, we filled our lungs with its heady smoke trail in simultaneous breaths. Lying under a privet hedge she told me a secret about her cousin, three years older than her: she was beginning to grow 'buds'. Then she coaxed me into kissing her.

          cleaving to short trousers
          until summer's end

Her aunt and my mother would go on gossiping together over hot chocolate for another thirty-five years. All through the time when I had to go away and began to work the world. But when I came home on leave and wanted to take my widowed mother on holiday, a tour of the West Country and the South Coast for one last time, it was fixed in one of those gossips that we would stay one night of our trip with Mary Mouse.

Married to a man who keeps a lighthouse, we are told; can see his light flashing from her front window, warning the shipping to keep away.

          across the bay
          a regular sort of life
          night lights on the stairs

With daylight comes Mary's soft tap at the door as she brings in a tray of tea. This is the first moment we have actually been alone since my mother and I arrived the previous afternoon. Mary's eyes accommodate mine briefly over the tea tray, no signal that anything flickers behind them of thirty-five years ago.

When I have dressed and make my way down the stairs to breakfast the candles have been snuffed out and stored in a box.

          seconds between
          cold lighthouse flashes
          bacon and eggs


David Cobb David Cobb is recognised internationally, to quote the Welsh Haikuist Ken Jones, as 'the Grand Old Man of British haiku'. He was one of the founders of the British Haiku Society in 1990, is a past president, and remains a tireless activist for haiku internationally. He is the editor and author of over a dozen books of haiku writing, including The Iron Book of British Haiku (Iron Press 1998), The British Museum Haiku (British Museum Press 2002), Business in Eden (Equinox Press 2006), and the book length haibun, or nikki, Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore, first published in 1997. His Web site is .