KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Haibun: 221 words

Ecotones of the Spirit

by Ray Rasmussen
Hope is the thing with feathers / that perches in the soul...

—Emily Dickinson

Today marks the arrival of the vernal equinox, the time when winter’s darkness begins its slow retreat, when the edge between night and day shifts towards lightness.

There’s movement on the fringe between forest and meadow, and I pick up binoculars for a close look. An 8-point buck warily steps out and begins to lick the salt block I placed several weeks ago. One tine is missing and there are scars on his hide, an indication that he’s had many seasons of battles for his harems.

And standing out next to my tea cup is a pill. This morning, I’ll finish a months-long regime—thirty tiny, white, bitter things—and arrive at a psychological ecotone, that feathery place between hope and resignation.

Tomorrow, I’ll leave the warmth of my home and warily step through a door into the medical centre, that boundary between feeling young and feeling old, between self-esteem and humiliation, between confidence and despair.

The buck has just stepped back into the forest’s shaded safety and I’ve taken that last pill. Soon I’ll move back to feeling immortal, as if today, the beginning of spring, is the beginning of forever. Or will I?

mourning dove song—
feathers puffed
against the cold

—Second Honorable Mention, KYSO Flash HTP Writing Challenge

Publisher’s Note:

The epigraph above is from the poem “Hope is the thing with feathers,” believed to have been written in 1861, and first published posthumously in 1891 in the second collection of the poet’s works, Poems by Emily Dickinson (Roberts Brothers, Boston).

Ray Rasmussen
Issue 6, Fall 2016

lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A retired university professor, he spends his time writing, image making, and wandering about in wilderness places. His haiku, haiga, haibun, and articles have appeared in the print journals: Modern Haiku, Frogpond, and bottle rockets; and in these online journals, among others: The Heron’s Nest, Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, A Hundred Gourds, Simply Haiku, Haigaonline, tiny words, Roadrunner, Lynx, Blithe Spirit, Cattails, and Notes from the Gean.

Rasmussen’s work has been reprinted in five anthologies, and his book, Landmarks: A Haibun Collection, is available on He currently serves as haibun editor of Haibun Today. In addition, he maintains an extensive resource website for haiku, haibun, haiga, photo- and art-haiku, and tanka prose at: Ray’s Web: Haiku.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Ray’s Web: Photography, which offers several galleries with remarkable images of the natural world

On KYSO Flash Anthology of Haibun and Tanka Forms 2015, in Haibun Today (June 2016), Rasmussen’s in-depth review of our first printed collection of haibun and tanka forms (which includes commentaries by guest editor Roberta Beary)

Showing the Shadow: Ray Rasmussen on Haiku, Haiga and Haibun, a conversation with Jeffrey Woodward in Haibun Today (Volume 5, Number 1, March 2011)

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