to the small poem and the quiet voice within

roberta beary | timeline

Roberta Beary


When my husband and I arrive in Japan we promise each other it will be for three years. Three years turn into five. And for one of us, five years turn into forever.

cherry blossoms —
dusk slips in

Back in the United States, I cannot forget Japan and what I left behind. Now I am a single mother with two small children. How will I raise them on my own?

winding road
face of a rabbit
in the moon

In my struggle I recall a word I often heard in Japan. Gambatte. A word that is hard to translate. Some explain it as ‘be strong’. Others as ‘do your best’. To me Gambatte means ‘keep going’. Over and over I say it. Gambatte becomes my mantra. I keep going. Little by little pieces of my old life mingle with the new. My children’s names in katakana on a scroll above their beds. I eavesdrop as they read side-by-side in tiny rocking chairs. First one story Momotaro the Peach Boy, then the other Kaguya-Hime the Moon Princess.

on the welcome mat
a pair of slippers

Time keeps its own counsel. Children grow up and move away. But always, with a sweet nostalgia, I remember Japan.

red silk obi
how gently it drapes
the old piano

Credit: Honorable Mention 2012 Genjuan International Haibun Contest

Editor’s note: One of the few American poets of Eastern practice who never fails to delight…never fails to say so much, with so little, leaving the reader with one word on his mind: more. –Norbert Blei


  1. Jackie

    How lovely. I love the form too. Such delicate tenderness.

  2. Jeffrey Winke

    Superb… Roberta is the best!

  3. Patt Clark

    Roberta is now the Haibun editor for Modern Haiku. I ordered the summer issue. I think she is superb. Thank you so much for introducing me to her.

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