Haibun – 白夜 (“Midnight Sun”)

“At four in the morning my body bumped against the ceiling”
– Jim Harrison


Svenn taught me how to get coffee ready for when we were pulling on our boots to go milk the cows. First, start water boiling in the kettle, then tear open a bag of grounds and dump them in the rolling water. Wait a bit and pour, grounds and all, into a cup. “Kokekaffe” or cooked coffee is what he called it, as best as I could make out. We’d drink it hot and black along with a thick slice of bread spread with butter and salmon roe.

On the islands of Lofoton Norway, like anywhere above the Arctic circle, light is a season, not a daily thump and bump of day into night into day again. The summer sun rolls around the horizon like an infinitely slow roulette marble. Or the electron of a halo, shutter stopped.

At first, I thought I was forever done with night, that darkness was something I could shed and never regret. But after a bit, the constant light started making the cows and the dogs and even the humans a bit crazy. I had to tie a rag around my eyes to try and sleep, since light leaked in through the window blinds despite my best efforts. Eventually, even just knowing it was light outside was enough to keep me awake, sanity slowly leaching out the corners of my eyes. In the end, the only handhold to full blackout was to drink more and more of the Everclear we made in a still behind the barn. Svenn taught me how to do that too.

Who knew how much we crave darkness? How necessary for our shadows to lengthen, dissolve, and fill the sky.

Calls for light season
Hints of crazy spices gin –
Distilled summer sun



Day 27, 28 Days of Unreason
dVerse Poets Pub, Haibun Monday

40 thoughts on “Haibun – 白夜 (“Midnight Sun”)

  1. Can we live without both parts of ourselves? Must we anesthetize in search of the drunken malevolent? Sardonic title; appreciate the literal translation and the potential double meaning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At first, I thought I was forever done with night, that darkness was something I could shed and never regret.

    I like all the detailing here, but for me that was the pivotal sentence in this. That’s where it suddenly becomes about more than just day to day life. I like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the haibun is your forte perhaps because it gives expanse to your ease of expressiveness – and then you percolate it with coffee grounds and Evian to make a haiku of gin. Refreshingly unique this light that drives us as mad as Arctic winters

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Every once and a while that mix of narrative and poetry comes in handy. I think I’ve been using that “form” elsewhere, even if not formally wrapped with the Haiku. But longer lines, narrative(ish) voice, then try and bring it home.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah.. I know this well, and I think you have to see the complete darkness of winter to really appreciate the light of summer… (too much coffee can also be blamed for not sleeping). Stockholm has a few hour of almost darkness at this time of the year… in a couple of weeks we will go north to live in the light (and get a bit crazy)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love your haibun. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live so far north (or south from here in Australia). The need for darkness and for deep sleep is so necessary for sanity. We process a lot of stuff during our sleep I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You lucked out with your roulette marble getting to experience such a sky, that everclear of “white night” (白夜), coffee grounds and all. I especially believe you were quite fortunate in being able to realize the importance of the shadow. Beautiful haibun, Q!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Midnight sun is a privilege. Too much of it may be too much to stomach. The body cannot take it and darkness is craved for. Our body apparently has a way to adjust to this. That is the beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Back for a closer look – this line jumped out, ” even just knowing it was light outside was enough to keep me awake, sanity slowly leaching out the corners of my eyes”
    There are so many ways, in the literary sense, to go with that, but I always go to the literary. I never assume that anyone’s writing is personal experience, but I need to look at this, and your other Haibuns, as the travel journals that they are. At the bottom of this post in the WP suggestions was one you wrote on Christmas that I never saw. Makes me realize how much traveling you have done and what rich stories you have. That makes for great writing. But I still want to go with the literary of that line above! lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I find it an interesting tension to write not knowing how it will be read. I assume the reader will have to work that out a bit. And fascinating when somehow the story seems just too oddball or fantastic that my attempts to write it from detailed veracity fail. Like with the M__ haibun. Yet of course I want the literary read as well, otherwise what was the point, LOLOL!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went through phases with M__. At first I felt that the narrator was a victim who had a narrow escape from M__. Then I saw the intent of M__ being a victim and I felt bad for not feeling bad for him. Then I came back to the start – the narrator was a victim, either of M__ or those who shaped him. Full circle, I remain glad that the narrator (& R) escaped.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I found it a perfect format for your travels and details make me want to experience that long long days of summer in Norway or Iceland ~ Up North of Canada, we also have a place like this during summer, like more than 20 hours of light, then the reverse, during winter, it;s all pitch darkness ~ I think I can stand the long light outside but i will go crazy with the thought that its all darkness all the time. I believe a balance of light and night shadows are good for our mental wellness ~

    Love the share & wishing you a happy summer ~

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The sense of losing one’s sanity to too much light comes across really strongly, as do the desperate measures taken to sleep – so evocative. I too would be tying rags around my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

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