Poet Commentaries

The Big Yellow Toboggan

This is the second write up on my bus driving days.  This one written as a haibun, with haiku sprinkled in so you cannot miss the point; every story has a point.  


Likely there is a way to quantify the combined horsepower and wit of the kids left in my bus on this day but I should not be using this resource.  That is ok as any of the busses potential over second gear was also useless.

low gear
there are roads
where this is too fast

We had crossed over the last main road onto a little used dead end dirt track.  Here the freezing rain had created an ice rink.  The beautiful trees lining the way dripped teeth and talons. I tested the traction and found just enough grizzle of gravel growing through the ice to make me feel I could make it. It was not unsafe as much as surreal.  The kids were queried.    Once over the crest of the first hill we would be on our own and yet the children were all excited. There was not one nay.

blue sheet lightning
in riveting rain
the excitement crackles

With a “we may not make it” and me emoting a grimace we set out, building up just enough speed to make each of the seven hills, the forward momentum ceasing at each crest.  A wavering of forward and back.  Our collective breaths released at each tip forward and then quickly gasped in again as the speed builds on the way down.  The bus kids all glistened with giddy just like the trees.

little knolls
high enough
to rarify air

On the bottom of the seventh hill stood the lane to the bootleggers home. I secretly called them this because of the joy they brewed of their own ingenuity and their beautiful homestead.  So here perched precariously was my big yellow toboggan.  Just past the lane the yellow dead end sign.

My worry like all expert tobogganers was the walk back up after the snow and ice were shaken off.  The choice to drop off here and do the road back in reverse or try to get back up was presented to the masses.  We all loaded up, legs wrapped in front of the person ahead, arms around waists and our bums on hard wooden frets.

so much fun
on slippery slopes

It turns out that the road’s shadow of gravel stopped us before the sign and made it so we could turn but it was not enough traction to get us to the top.  The bus was backed to the edge for a run and shut off.  The crew was asked if they wanted to help, that I may have a solution. I was not surprised by the hearty yes.

Johnny and Susan
hold hands up the slope
careen down again

In the bootlegger’s forest on either side was everything we needed. I turned off the bus and grabbed an axe.  The children were bundled up with the oldest sent to the top as a lookout for danger.  The rest culled boughs from Christmas trees and every bit of the crackly fuel that fired up this stillness.  We together lined the lane like the pioneers of old making, a corduroy road.

fairies in forest
on silvery wings
laughter and light

The only sad parts of the day?  The bus had no hot chocolate and the waves of the students in the rearview as each was dropped off

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