Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Wood ducks often wander across the lawn in couples like this.

Northern Flicker; a haibun
aspens leafing out—
a flicker dashes headlong
against the window

When I found him—his upright claws clenched loosely around air—his folded wing cast a long shadow in the morning light, as if it could once again assume the shape of flight. All day he lay on the porch, bereft of life, cupped in a serene circlet of his own shining yellow black-tipped feathers. A pair of downy woodpeckers were nesting in a dead tree near the back door, but if the flicker had a mate, she did not show herself.

We bent to admire the brilliant red on the top of his head, his elegant speckled breast, and for our closest look, and look again, at the nictitating membrane, blue-white and half-closed from the bottom of his eye. It was hard to give him up: so curious and beautifully made. 

I thought at first of a tree burial, of walking deep into woods and placing him as high as I could reach. My grandson and I buried him, neatly folded into a section of the Petoskey News-Review, at the edge of a small pine grove. With formal care, we chose a gray boulder to mark his grave.After we had strewn it with dandelions and very small pale blue violets, I sang a hymn from my childhood religion.

in the leafing wood
woodpeckers drum all day
his funeral music

June Hopper Hymas

The dandelions reminded me of this haibun that I wrote many years ago. A haibun is short, compact prose with haiku included. It is a wonderful form for a memory like this. It is one of my favorite forms. jhh
And here he is, poor fellow!


  1. You've really got a good thing going with the Wood Ducks over there! Very nice!

  2. Many thanks. Had a quail on the white fence today, but only got mallard pix. Nice mallard shiny-green-head pix.