KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Haibun: 175 words [R]

The History Teacher

by Peter Butler

He prefers to be tucked in the comfort of the past, waking to sparrows dancing pizzicato round the breadcrumbs, the maid warming logs, cook plucking fowl, reassurance of a bedpan and, on dressing, a saunter round the garden rehearsing lines for his seminal work on past tense (rejected by a number of publishers), before preparing for the new term’s lessons, and warning his charges on the vacuity of celebrity, chat rooms, trivia, gizmos, bling:

under the church clock
today’s graffiti

He takes his usual route through hushed lanes, past the blacksmith and saddler, the vicarage, graves with gentle epitaphs, the canal and its merry boatmen with flat caps enjoying ale-side breaks, considering whether he might divert the tearaways in his class with a lecture on the economics of the horse-drawn barge, the cosiness of the hansom cab, until the call of the crows is deafened by the screech of traffic.

Lost in the past, he trips on a kerb into the present:

round a blind corner
the school bus
wheels locking

—From the haibun collection A Piece of Shrapnel (Hub Editions, 2013); republished here by author’s permission

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