Archive for the Theme Fridays Category

Theme Friday: Lilacs

Posted in Theme Fridays on April 29, 2011 by clancyjane

Even in Kyoto/I hear the cuckoo sing/and long for Kyoto.  ~Basho


The car coasted to a stop on the gravel between the graves.

You comin’, Dad?

Nah.  I’ll just wait here.

I let the car door close behind me and started down the nearest row.  I’d only taken a few steps when he called me back.

Listen.  You tell Mom I’m not drinkin’ again, I just don’t feel good.

I’ll tell her, Dad.  But she knows that already.

I checked my watch and wondered if he was close to needing insulin.  I walked past Uncle Charlie, Aunt Ruth, Cousin Casey, and the other townspeople who’d gone on before us.  I stopped when I got to Dad’s folks, and, as he’d asked, tried to tell them what they knew already.

It was the lilacs, I think, carried on the summer breeze, that caught the words in my throat.  I looked back toward the car, catching  sight of the Thompson stone.  I thought of Alice, in another season, talking about the snow on Bethel’s grave.  She cried with no excuses.  It was winter then, and there were no lilacs to blame.

I couldn’t see them, but they were thick in the pure village air.  They grew in common at our house on the hill and by the old barn in Grandma’s back yard.  I’d sat there with Sean one day, our backs against the wooden door and our heels in the rich, black dirt.  I told him the Basho haiku that embodied Lucerne for me.

Well, that doesn’t make sense.  He’s in Kyoto, hears a bird sing, and longs for Kyoto, even though he’s in Kyoto?

It makes perfect sense.  It would be like saying, “Even in Lucerne, I smell the scent of Lilacs, and long for Lucerne”.  I’m in Lucerne, longing for the perfect Lucerne I knew– the ideal or idyllic Lucerne, which can’t exist anymore, because some of us are missing.

The sun signaled time to meet Mom for lunch.

I said goodbye to George and Myrtle and walked back to the car and their waiting son.

Did you tell her what I told you to?

Yeah, Dad, I did.  And she said to tell you you’re not too big for a spanking.

His laugh filled the lilac’d air around us and we were in an old Lucerne,  in a different time, and a different place, where everything was fine again for just a little while.


Christine and Annie take on Lilacs.