MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Location: file:///C:/2E184A4E/Rabbit_Moon.htm Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii" Rabbit in the Moon—Raymond Roseliep’s Last Book

Rabbit in the Moon—Raymond Roseliep’s Last= Book

By Donna Bauerly

 

        &= nbsp;   RABBIT IN THE MOON. Quite a leap, = even for a rabbit. Yet how much bigger a leap for buddhas to get into our broccoli?

        &= nbsp;   The readers of Raymond Roseliep’s latest and = last book of haiku, Rabbit in the Moon, may just as well get used to such dizzying movements and juxtapositions as rabbits, budd= has, and broccoli—for they abound.

 

 

 

rabbit in the moon

 

 

 

 

in our broccoli=

 

 

 

 

small Buddha voices<= o:p>

(37)

 

 

This puzzling haiku, explained only somewhat by = Roseliep’s reference to a Buddha tale, marks th= e end of the spring section in Rabbit. In ten words R= oseliep takes part of earth out of itself and jumps it to the heavens. Then he brin= gs the voices of the Eastern god into a Western backyard garden temple and cas= ts a magical light over all the leapings.=

        &= nbsp;   Roseliep wrote many volumes of poetry. Most of them w= ere books of haiku, arranged in traditional seasonal progressions like Rabbi= t. In former volumes he asked us to live One Day in the Life of Sobi-Shi, challenged us to Listen to Light, quieted us to The Still Point; but never has he asked so much energe= tic movement as he does now. Readi= ng Rabbit requires a mental and spiritual agility akin to the animal in= his title haiku.

        &= nbsp;   The largest motion in Rabbit is the cosmic seasonal one. Once more the p= oet cycles a year, giving these haiku markers:

 

hole in my sock=

 

rose

autumn frog

snow:

letting spring<= /o:p>

 

body language

what it is

all’s

in   (13)

 

of the bee   (41)        = ;   

the smile hides   (69)=

new   (97)

 

However, the poet gives us more than the external seasons. He walks around his own l= ife, gathering markers of physical and spiritual growth. Some of the boy haiku in the spring section are easy to understand—

 

 

 

my father’s back

 

 

 

 

loaded with me

 

 

 

 

and other frogs

(14)

 

 

Others are more elusive. In “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” aft= er his boy-encounter with a mourning bird, Walk Whitman declared “My own songs awaked from that hour.” The reader might wonder if Roseliep is telling that he, too, heard his poetic ca= ll in the boy-spring of his life:

 

 

 

looking for the bird

 

 

 

 

who called

 

 

 

 

my name

(21)

 

 

        &= nbsp;   It would be easy to say that all the youth haiku are in the spring section of = Rabbit, and that Roseliep has simply matched personal growth-seasons to the moving-on of the year. A careful reading, however, reveals that the motions in Rabbit are much more complex, especially= in the light of Roseliep’s previous poetry. = In 1980 I wrote a critical analysis of Roseliep’s work, “Raymond Roseliep: Where Are You Go= ing? Where Have You Been?”: In it I quoted a po= em entitled “Some Men a Forward Motion Love”:

 

 

 

“Still haven’t finished childhood” was the clause<= /p>

 

 

 

 

that closed his letter; then he added, “In

 

 

 

 

more ways than one.” By childhood he had mea= nt

 

 

 

 

those Joycean trips through alleys of the mind=

 

 

 

 

I beg to leave unlanterned. He explains,

 

 

 

 

it takes a child to catch a child: and swears

 

 

 

 

by it. I do not tell him I am more

 

 

 

 

the usual coward who transfers a fear.=

 

 

 

 

This lighting back perturbs me like the search

 

 

 

 

through darkness for a blacker cat not there.

 

 

 

 

Let midnight wicks inform a virgin’s fool-

 

 

 

 

ish wait, or scholar= 217;s watch. My friend is I,

 

 

 

 

and I’m afraid of  I, and = want no back-

 

 

 

 

ward steps. Childhood is over, and we shove

 

 

 

 

ourselves to manhood, linking arm with those

 

 

 

 

who feign a forward motion, or we move

 

 

 

 

from shadow into shadow, not from love.=

 

 

 

 

(The Linen Bands, 1= 961)

(38)

 

 

The early poem still seems central to the entire motion of Roseliep’s life as he shoved hi= mself “to manhood.” In many ways this poet remained the boy-man, ever capturing the wonder of first discoveries, ever growing up through remembra= nces as though life all happens now, not then.

  &nb= sp;         For example, when we read about his “first burr haircut” in the spr= ing section of Rabbit, it is easy to see <= span class=3DSpellE>Roseliep the child. But when we encounter the winter section and read—

 

 

 

so small a child

 

 

 

 

pushing clouds

 

 

 

 

from the moon

(120) <= /p>

 

 

we might be inclined to think other child. With a stab of poignancy and self-recognition we realize the child in the man holds back t= he specter of death, and that death itself might well be the

 

 

 

stranger in town

 

 

 

 

the otherness

 

 

 

 

of the moon

(120) <= /p>

 

 

  &nb= sp;         Roseliep called the complexity of motion in Rabbit his “loopings.” (Akin to leapings of the rabbit, I take it, for= it is easy to identify this creature as an alter ego much like the beloved Sobi-Shi.) Throughout the volume, on multi-leveled journeys, his “loopings” are complex motions which will spiral us from the bird of spring (21) to the spring-bir= d of death—

 

 

 

bird bone dust

 

 

 

 

earth receiving

 

 

 

 

 

itself

(36) <= /p>

 

 

Or from the summer love bee with its “body language” (41) to the stillness—

 

 

 

the bee stops singing

 

 

 

 

we find

 

 

 

 

who we are

(65) <= /p>

 

 

  &nb= sp;         His life-death loopings are even more frighteningly beautiful in the autumn and winter sections of Rabbit. Autumn’s finale begins with a tribute to Pope Paul VI (92) and ends with—

 

 

 

from my hand . . .

 

 

 

 

winghold

 

 

 

 

on the void

(93)

 

 

  &nb= sp;         In a previous volume, The Still Point= , Roseliep celebrated the awful suspension betwee= n life and death with haiku of mu, haiku of nothingness—moving us to no handhold, no foothold. Haiku of = mu are everywhere in Rabbit, but most noticeably in the winter section, inviting disappearance:

 

chimes

 

fog

 

sleet

no

 

stairs find

 

hones

wind  <= /span>       (102)<= /p>

 

sky

(105)

farewell         (111)

 

  &nb= sp;         But the main motion of this poet, conscious as he was of death and life-in-deat= h, is the motion of love. The most dazzling of the haiku sequences in Rabbit deals with that emotion. O= ut of the background of an almost overwhelming Mother-love (a series of haiku, 27= -28), Roseliep takes us to another kind of loving. Once before, in A Roseliep Retrospective, I questioned the identity of this “significant other.” I will ask it again, knowing the answer wi= ll always be part of the mystery of this sensuous priest-poet lover. Once the reader admits the intensity of the love expression in this sequence, all ot= her haiku in Rabbit tend to remain bathe= d in a romantic, elusive and reflective moonlight:

 

your hair

wildwood

before love:

mist

 

bee gold

where your hand

the meadowlark’s

on my mouth

 

on the move

clings more

alarm note

air   you   touched

(30-31)

 

Even Roseliep’s Henderson award w= inning haiku (1982)

 

 

 

horizon

 

 

 

 

wild swan drifting through

 

 

 

 

the woman’s body

(42)

 

 

becomes more personal= ized across the page from

 

 

 

leave the dream

 

 

 

 

in the sand

 

 

 

 

where we slept

(43)

 

 

  &nb= sp;         Finally, I wanted to remain the objective critic in this review of Raymond Roseliep’s last book. But as I turn to the Sobi-Shi poems I know that I cannot. It is all too ea= sy to read them as farewells from our brother and friend. Consider these:

 

 

the firefly

 

never alone

 

 

acting like he knows

 

Sobi<= span style=3D'font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-style:i= talic'>-Shi and the big dog

 

 

Sobi<= span style=3D'font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-style:i= talic'>-Shi’s swan song          (24)

 

in the southern sky

(24)

 

 

 

good eye closed,

 

gone through a moon

 

 

Sobi<= span style=3D'font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-style:i= talic'>-Shi views

 

  Sobi= -Shi still

 

 

the last leaves       &nbs= p; (75)

 

  on “Hold”

(110)

 

  &nb= sp;         Some of us wanted to cry “Hold” when Raymond held precariously to li= fe with breath and heartbeat. He would not have it so. Instead, Roseliep left us, perhaps leaving much more to us. In= this season of the Word Incarnate we have his words for life.<= /p>

  &nb= sp;         Thoreau watched a winter rabbit at Walden Pond, fearing that it had succumbed to the cold. Fearing for his own survival, Thoreau’s heart leaped for joy when the rabbit scampered away over the frozen ground. So, too, Roseliep’s Rabbit leaps with life.

  &nb= sp;         Would we look for him? Whitman told us at the end of “Song of Myself,”

 

“I bequeath mys= elf to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again = look for me under your boot soles.”

 

And Raymond had carved on his tombstone—“against the night.”

  &nb= sp;         Rabbit in the Moon ends/begins with a bravery of assertion about Roseliep’s own dis-appearance:

 

 

 

what is

 

 

 

 

in light

 

 

 

 

is light:

 

 

 

 

 

I am

 

 

 

 

all around

 

 

 

 

me       &nbs= p;     (121)

 

 

 

  &nb= sp;         We know now where to look.

 

Work Cited

 

Bauerly, Donna.  &#= 8220;Rabbit in the Moon.”  Delta Epsilon Sigma Journal, Volume XXIX, March 1984, Number 1:  4-7.  Reprinted in Wind Chimes, Volume 12, 1984 (10-15).=