Haibun for this Floating, Fleeting Life

Sandra Lindow

From Utamaro’s series on Fashionable Children *ca. 1795

Japanese printmakers called it ukiyo-e,
the floating, fleeting life, a meticulous
process of carved wood, paper and layered
ink, attempting to capture the ordinary
before it slips away, asea in uncertain memory.

In Utamaro’s series of fashionable children,*
a middle-class mother sleeps, her opalescent face
serene on her kimonoed arm, black hair...
sumptuous, perfectly coiffed above
the yellow wooden box on which she rests.

But her chubby, pampered man child,
head shaven except for stylish powder-puff tufts
above each ear, is untouched by early afternoon’s
somnolent heat and upsets the water plant
to splash cascades upon the floor. 

Between bamboo screen and discarded fan,
the child, shielded by luxury,.
holds leaves in his determined fist,
concentrates on play, momentary mindfulness
held within childhood’s evanescent space.

            sunlight leavens
            leaves and lives
            spilled upon the floor

Sandra Lindow   

Sandra Lindow


Sandra Lindow is the longest serving Regional Vice President in the history of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (1987-2017).  Presently she also serves as Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, an international organization. Since 1988, Lindow has had twenty-three Rhysling nominations for the best speculative poem published during a particular calendar year. In 1990, her collection, The Heroic Housewife Papers, won the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Posner Award for best poetry collection by a Wisconsin writer. Her poem “If Death: A Preprimer” was included in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: 2001. In 2003 she received the Wisconsin Press Women’s Award for Poetry as well as the WFOP Triad Theme Contest first prize award. In 2004 and 2011, she won Jade Ring first prize awards in poetry from the Wisconsin Writers’ Association. In 2014, her critical book, Dancing the Tao: Le Guin and Moral Development (Cambridge Scholars, 2012) was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award for Scholarship in Myth and Fantasy Studies. Lindow's poetry and poetry reviews can be found in Star*Line; other poetry has been published in The Ariel Anthology, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, New Poetry from the Midwest Asimov’s, Scifaikuest, Dreams and Nightmares, Tales of the Talisman, and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry. Her work can be found on-line in Verse Wisconsin, Word Gathering, Blue Heron Review, Strange Horizons, Riddled by Arrows and Gyroscope Review. Her most recent collection is The Hedge Witch’s Upgrade, 2012.