Haibun in the Modern English-Language Style by Ray Rasmussen
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Desert Walks

In mountain wilderness, my habit is to walk from sunrise to sunset. Friends have suggested that I should pause more, that I should "be in" rather than "move through". But if a meditation serves the spirit, why meddle? Buddhists chant, Dervishes dance, I hike. And sense of place slips in quietly through body's urban armor.

But, here, desert's sun insists on a change. The waterless, sandy stream beds shimmer with heat waves. As on snow, sunray's ricochet off sandstone walls. And, where friends' platitudes have failed, sun trumps mind's will to move. Body, wiser than mind, has closed down—eyes, nose, ears, even skin cringes in the heat.

Midday Sun: I travel short distances, from pool to pool, pools of water, pools of shade; seeking out springs in lusty anticipation, wetting hat and neckband, letting hands and feet linger in wetness—sensuous meanders in muddied places shared with tadpoles.

Late Afternoon: Sun's glare diminishes. Winds whisper; skin opens as to a lover's caress. Body's senses unfold, slowly, like a butterfly's wings having just emerged from chrysalis. Eyes inherited from a people who evolved in the filtered light of forest canopy begin again to take in.

Dusk: Frogs sing their lust; bees hum in blooms of yellow barberry. An owl's call; the yip of a coyote—signals that I'm part of a celebration of dusk's softness. When only a few hours ago, the junipers sagged like dusty tramps, turquoise berries glow like fireflies; grasses pulse with iridescent greens; alpen glow creeps up sandstone walls. The desert is dancing in color!

Darkness: I reach camp, a chill in the air, slide into the campfire circle, gather food & drink.

land of little water
it's the walking that
washes you clean

Published in Roadrunner Haiku Journal, February 2007 Issue VII:1