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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Haibun Story: 302 words
By Rich Youmans

Through the Looking Glass


That first time, you had gone into the bathroom to brush your teeth. I was sitting on the edge of our bed, untying my shoes, thinking about the neurologist and his talk of plateaus. And then your voice: NO! My hands froze. “You okay?” I called. Nothing. Then, “Get out...Get out...GET OUT!” By that time I was next to you; I caught your fist just before it hit the mirror. You turned to me, a finger to your lips. “She wants to kill me,” you whispered.

all the shapes

In the guest bedroom you met an old friend. Framed in a rib of mahogany, its edges freckled black, the mirror had been a flea market find, back when we were first married and furnishing on the cheap. Your face softened when you saw her, that big smile turning your eyes to sunburst amber. You asked how things were, nodded and laughed. Then that smile again. “I have to go now.” You both waved good-bye.

in evening fog

Toward the end, we took long drives because I didn’t know what else to do. We wandered the backroads, past woods of oak and red maple that grew more bare by the week. We passed familiar landmarks—the gray-shingled Village Mart, the four-way stop and Al’s Bike Shop, a spoked wheel hung like a good-luck charm over its front door. Your eyes flashed as if in recognition, although it could have just been the sun’s low angle. For hours we looped and circled as shadows lengthened and houselights came on behind the trees. When twilight took on the shade of smoke, you stared out the side window quietly. I wondered who you saw, a face so faint it was barely there.

the lives once dreamed

Rich Youmans
Issue 9, August 2021

has been writing haiku, haibun, and related essays for 35 years and wonders where the time went. His most recent chapbook, Head-On: Haibun Stories (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2018), received an honorable mention in the Haibun category of the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards. He is currently the editor-in-chief of contemporary haibun online and lives on Cape Cod with his wife, Alice.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

What’s Left Unsaid: Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory & Harriot West’s “Empty Spaces” in contemporary haibun online (16:3, December 2020)

Seven Haibun by Youmans, across three issues of KYSO Flash (5, 8, and 11)

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