KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Haibun: 361 words


by David Cobb
Photo of White Cone on Yew Plinth by Alison Cobb

a glint of sunlight
caught by copper tongs
in the dusty grate

By the fireside, perched on its rim at a jaunty but almost perilous angle, a cone of white plaster on a small round plinth of yew. Gouged out of its plaster face, a whirl of wrinkles penetrating to its heart. As often it sets me thinking of her.

This sculpture she made for the John Keats Bicentenary one mid-June, in the garden of his house in Hampstead. The inspiration for it was his sonnet When I have fears that I may cease to be...

Midsummer’s Night
a white face haunting
the mulberry

That was before the cancer took hold in her breast, before she found herself on her own with two growing boys to raise, before she reverted to her maiden name. Oh, she had fears then that she would cease to be, fears never spoken, but I knew from her tears wetting my chest.

I cast those dark memories away in her well-remembered laugh, as she would tell me of some prank in her free-and-easy days. How once, in Ireland, in a circus, she had stood in when the usual stooge had walked out on the knife-throwing act. All the way round the thrower had stitched her body to the board through her scanty dress. Fearing then of “ceasing to be,” surely, but not daring to tremble.

Reward? The gypsy knife-thrower gave her a stuffed giraffe. Ten or more feet tall. She lugged it onto the night ferry to Holyhead, hitch-hiked with it to London, could not get it through the door where she lodged. The giraffe ever since loaned out to some grand stately house in Derbyshire.

Making life-size heads of camels from clay, that was my fancy, and in her pottery class she showed me how. Pieced together my first one when, in the kiln, it burst into shards. Did not hold me back when, having a whole portfolio of camels, I graduated to the rhino. Drew pictures for some of my haiku. Married a minor poet and I heard no more. Never dared to ask...

solstice shadows
a shiver passes
through the plaster cone

Photo of Camel Head in Clay by Alison Cobb

—Photographs of White Cone and Camel in Clay by Alison Cobb; reduced in size from original images and reproduced here by her permission

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