Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2009, vol 7 no 4


Cinnamon Bark
Ray Rasmussen


"... aunts and uncles, those who used to say, look how he's shooting up, and the trinket aunts who always had a little something in their pocketbooks, cinnamon bark or a penny or nickel ..."
— A.R. Ammons, "Easter Morning"

There were no relatives in my boyhood — we lived too far away.

When my mother's parents and siblings died of the Spanish flu, her uncles and aunts refused to take her in. She was an orphanage girl who scrambled with the other children for the pennies and nickels thrown on the ground by well-meaning visitors on Easter mornings. She sang to us every day when I was a child; made us treats in her kitchen. "You look hungry," she'd say looking at an empty plate. "Have some more."

And there was my introverted father who became father to his siblings at sixteen when his mother died and when his own father was consumed by illness and despair. He had no way with words, instead providing for us with a steady job and hand-building a small mountain cabin that we kids so loved.

his grave stone
surrounded by tall pines
and still the silence

I visit mom in her new institution. It's filled with stooped, silver-haired seniors who are seldom visited. "They treat her like a doll," my sister says. "Look how they've done up her hair." At our Easter dinner I can sense her wanting to pass me something from her plate, some bits of cinnamon bark.

her hair
a gray halo
and now the silence


Ray Rasmussen Ray Rasmussen's haiku, haiga, haibun and articles have been accepted for publication in Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Contemporary Haibun, Heron's Nest, Simply Haiku, Bottle Rockets, Haibun Today, Haigaonline, Contemporary Haibun Online, Roadrunner, Tinywords, Haiku Harvest, The World Haiku Review, Lynx and Ink Sweat & Tears. Ray designed the Contemporary Haibun Online web site and serves as technical editor. His web page designs are currently used by Simply Haiku and Roadrunner haiku journals. He has served as haiga editor for Simply Haiku and haibun editor for the World Haiku Review. Ray dreamed that in a previous life he was a university professor.