A Hundred Gourds 5:3 June 2016
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On a haibun by Terri
by Marion Clarke
I was immediately drawn to this
amusing haibun by Terri L French:
I don’t remember the name of the movie but
I do remember its most famous
line — “I see dead people.”
Fortunately, I do not see dead people. I see
faces. Just about everywhere—on a stone, a
cracker, a ceiling tile, a mildew
everywhere. Not famous faces, not
cartoon character faces, and certainly not the
face of Jesus. Just faces. The kind
with two eyes a nose and a
mouth. Sometimes a frontal view
and sometimes in profile.
Smiling, yawning, sneering,
crying, wrinkled or youthful. I read somewhere
online that this qualifies me as neurotic. I
don’t know about that, but the last face I
saw — on the leaf of an artificial fig
tree in my psychiatrist’s office—winked at me.
–Haibun Today, Volume 9, Number 4,
life drawing class
the model’s face
The opening statement is a little like coming
across a crossword clue in a newspaper or
overhearing a question in a pub quiz to which you
can’t help providing the answer – in this case,
the title of the film Sixth Sense.
The narrator goes on to reveal that rather than
seeing ‘dead people’, like the character in the
film, she sees faces. For a second, this appears
almost as strange as being surrounded by the
deceased, until the reader discovers that it is
really the shape of faces she sees. Ah,
now this sounds familiar, as I sometimes see
shapes that look like faces in the clouds, for
example, or in a wallpaper pattern (and I hope I
am not neurotic!)
The last line of prose is intriguing as we
question how an imagined face on a fig leaf can
wink –especially since it’s an artificial leaf.
Because this takes place in a psychiatrist’s
office, we might even start to doubt the
narrator’s sanity a little.
Then, suddenly, we are transported via the haiku
to a life drawing class where a model poses, with
her deadpan expression. I get the distinct feeling
that the narrator is playing with the reader and
has transposed her face to that of this model.
While trying not to laugh, she is saying to the
reader, “honest, that leaf really did wink.” –
just as this haibun really did make me smile.
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