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#Haiban: Illusion of Magic



This week’s Tanka Tuesday poetry challenge was an Ekphrastic #PhotoPrompt provided by Lisa Thompson. Thanks Lisa.

“Don’t Eat the Toadstools.”

… called her grandfather as three-year-old Sarah ran ahead of him across the park lawn to peek at the little fairy tables. “They’re poisonous.”

“They’re fairy tables. I don’t eat tables, Silly Grandpa,” Sarah called back at her grandpa as the wind whipped her words and carried them far away from him where he couldn’t hear them.

She reached the trees where the toadstools grew. All around the mushrooms growing in the ground were larger cement “fairy tables” that beckoned to children to step into their magic circle with a posted sign that said, “Never step inside a fairy ring.”

Sarah was only three and couldn’t read. She touched the sign. It was rough where the someone scratched out curly words. Sarah had questions that would hardly wait. Did fairies write the sign in magical writing? Could her grandpa even read the fairy writing? Where were the fairies?

Getting down on all fours, as three-year-olds are prone to do, she turned her head from side to side looking under the heavy toadstools for a sign of winged magic. She pushed the cement fungi. They didn’t move.

“Hurry up, Grandpa,” she called. “I need help.”

“Don’t go in there, Sarah,” Grandpa warned as he leaned against a tree and panted.

“Does this sign say when the fairies will come to eat?”

“It does not. It says to stay out. Which of the toadstools do you think are real, Sarah, the little or the big ones?”

Polar opposites
Old teaches young teaches old
Different perspectives

“They both are. Grandpa. I could sit on those big ones.”

“And you’re not even a toad.”

Sarah swiped her hand against her grandpa’s sweatered arm and pulled him closer to the sign.

“You’re a toad, Grandpa. You didn’t read the sign. What does it say? Do toads like fairies?”

Storybook fairies
In the eyes of a child
Illusions alive

As an answer, her grandpa sat down on a bench near the cluster of mushroom statues.

“It’s a very old sign, little one. The writing is almost cursive but not quite. Maybe old English. You explore under the big trees while I sit here and rest. But don’t go near the big mushrooms. How many real toadstools do you think you can find? I see one already. “

He pointed to a small orange mushroom with a slanted stem under a tree.

Myths about these mystical fungi pass from generation to generation and back again. Photo – Wolfgang Hasselmann

Sarah squatted and looked under the tiny mushroom. No fairies. She pushed it. It bounced. She pinched it. It squished and left black fairy dust on her fingers.

Sparking investigation
Yielding first failure

“I killed the fairy’s table, Grandpa.” Sarah cried as she ran to her grandpa wiping her tears with her spore-coated fingers. “Now the fairy won’t have a place to eat. She will die.”

Grandpa took out his handkerchief, because this happened a very long time ago when grandpa’s had handkies with them at all times in case of emergencies. As he wiped Sarah’s face, five kids about six or seven years of age ran up to the cement toadstools, bumping into each other as they stopped to read the sign.

One girl couldn’t stop in time and fell into the ring of the fairies. Suddenly the toadstools came to life and fog spilled out from under them and the little girl was immersed in cold, wet clouds.

Mechanical toadstools
Concocted to ignite dreams
And delight children

Sarah jumped up and down, screeching like little girls do as she ran into the center of the fairy ring of toadstools. She grabbed the bigger girl’s hands and they spun around as all the kids danced in the fairy’s fog.

Fairies forgotten
In the joy of children's play
Expectations changed
by Marsha Ingrao

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34 replies »

  1. When I was younger and was able to play in Central Park in NYC we were allowed to climb the concrete statues. I think this was clever though the mushrooms and fog and how you told it. The children were transformed into fae even if just for a few moments with invisible wings – they joyously flew 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, they did. The place was adorable and it was in Delaware. I had a post about the actual occurrence. Of course, I was the one that had to step into the ring, but I like the way the imaginary story came out better. It was fun to write. I’m not a super fan of fungi in real life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely story! I was afraid to write my haibun the way I did because I didn’t want to give the impression that you could write stories in haibun poetry. I wrote my piece as a memoir of an experience I had. When you write a story, I think of fiction. That is the distinction. It should be your experience you are writing about.

    Haibun are written as autobiographical prose, a travel journal, a slice of life, a memory, a dream, a character sketch, a place, an event, or an object. Focus on one or two elements. The haiku portion are about nature, change, or seasonal change (following the haiku rules). The length can be brief with one or two sentences with a haiku, or longer prose with a haiku sandwiched between, to longer memoir works including many haiku.

    With that said, you know I love fairy stories. This story is sweet with your poetry sandwiched between. It’s wonderfully creative, and I loved it! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the lesson and the encouragement. I was pleased with the story as a story, but I’m still learning the poetry part, for sure! You are getting lots of teaching experience with me!!!! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! The Japanese poetry has some definite rules to follow. I don’t want you or anyone else to learn the wrong way and then submit to a contest or journal and then not understand why you were rejected. The American forms are much more forgiving. Haiku have strict rules, as well. This story would be lovely in a short story poetry collection. It’s entertaining and the hybrid haiku add to the story. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tanka Tuesday has opened up a new world for me, Colleen. I love the addition of the Haiku to a story. It breaks it up and adds a lot of interest and insight. Fortunately, I had not even thought of entering anything into a contest – well maybe the rodeo contest that you host. That sounds like a lot of fun. The way the story came out pleased me – even if it was not a true Haiban. I loved the entry that mixed the three forms of Haiku, too ending with the shortest form. Thanks for all the energy you put into the challenges.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. A magical read, Marsha, enjoyed this! I love how traditionally grandparents or older folk are the ones who seem to introduce us to the fantastical world of the imagination. I’m thinking now of the movie “Princess Bride” but in so many other narratives too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • True that, depending on the grandparent. When your grandfather is a chemical scientist or mechanic, probably you are going to get something else. In this case the grandparent was a composite person in my imagination as was Sarah.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Dora, I have to admit that writing this story/haiban entertained me for quite a while. It’s almost like I get to read the story as well because it is playing out in my mind like a motion picture. Sometimes my dreams are like that, too. Do you have that experience?

          Liked by 1 person

          • How interesting! I hadn’t really thought about it but there is a sense in which the plot unfolds like a movie, but not the characters — the characters evolve independently and sort of take over the plot. I’m not sure whether I’m in “control” of either, except to abandon the project altogether if it doesn’t finally hod together or interest me.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, we have a lot of control in that area. Like a dream, sometimes the characters do things that don’t jive or you have to come up with a motivation and there isn’t one. I see a lot of evidence of that happening in not-so-great movies. I don’t criticize them any more because I know how hard it is to create a story. Great conversation, Dora. Thanks for joining in. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Jude! I was up until almost 2:00 am putting the finishing touches on it. That’s always a dangerous time for me because I fall asleep at my computer. 🙂





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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