Réka Nyitrai & Alan Peat

Three Ekphrastic Haibun

Scorched earth

The first to notice the flames is my husband. He comes home from work and catches me texting my lover. Your heart is on fire – he concludes – we must not risk it spreading throughout the house. He calls the local fire department for help; shortly thereafter five firemen arrive at our door. The first brings the Black Sea in his bucket. The next has snow from Mount Fuji. The following two are more ambitious - they attempt to put out the inferno by means of spontaneous rainfall. Only when the fifth fireman kisses me hard upon the lips does my heart stops burning, and the blaze is extinguished. One nail drives out another – my lover texts.

smoke plumes —
the sparrow inside me
makes for the ocean

(based on Grace Pailthorpe's painting ‘The Five Firemen’ (1938))

Taphophobic dream

A woman lies on her side in a box surrounded by flowers and bonbons. Mist eddies round her veiled face. From between the flowers a giant swan emerges and pecks at the hem of her dress. On the inside of her elbow tiny salt statues and scaled-down coffins hatch from a miniature moon. The children she will never have are all dressed as clowns.

harlequin moth —
unseen blacklight
draws her in

(based on Helen Lundeberg's painting ‘The Veil’ (1947))

Embryonic hunger

The girl with history reserves a hypnotherapy session. She wants me to help her lose weight. Over the phone she confesses to gluttony. She tells me she just can’t resist food. Yet, as soon as I see her swollen belly, I know immediately that it is full of ghosts. The cards tell me that her abdomen is congested with the spectres of unborn children - the ones she used to entice men to marry her. She could envision no other kind of happiness then - just marriage and motherhood. Regardless, her lovers all cast her away. So, when she is hypnotised, I order her to eject the ghosts that inflate her belly. The matter she expels is a nestful of petrified eggs.

brittle moon
all the unhatched feelings

(based on Klara Kristalova's sculptures ‘A girl with history’ (2021) & ‘Snow mom’ (2016))

Réka Nyitrai is a spell, a sparrow, a lioness's tongue — a bird nest in a pool of dusk. She is the recipient of a Touchstone Distinguished Books Award for 2020 for her debut haiku volume While Dreaming Your Dreams (Valencia Spain: Mono Ya Mono Books, 2020).

Alan Peat F.R.S.A., F.H.A. is a UK based poet/author. In 2021 he placed third in the International Golden Triangle Haiku contest and second in the New Zealand International Haiku contest. In 2022 he was runner up in the British Haiku Society, Ken and Norah Jones Haibun Award; and joint third place in the 2022 Time Haiku ekphrastic haibun contest. He also writes books about art & ceramics.
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