Haibun in the Modern English-Language Style by Ray Rasmussen
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Wounded Birds

She arrives, not winging her way to our springtime from down south, but from downtown, the part that I never visit. Her hair is green with streaks of orange; her push-up bra and low neckline hints that a woman is trying to emerge from a cocoon of baggy pants and floppy hat.

"This is Lisa," my daughter says. "Her boyfriend put her out on the street to earn drug money."

"I wanna get clear," Lisa mumbles, head down. "I been doin' coke and meth since I was 16. Look at my arms, I’m still breakin' out all the time.”

"Speed bumps," my daughter explains, herself just a few months out of a drug rehab program. Lisa's arms are covered with pustules—her body’s attempt to push the crystal meth poisons out.

Later, we're driving home from the store where we've bought Lisa the necessities: hair brush and toothbrush, new underwear and, most important, a giant bag of red licorice.

In the back seat, she's talking with my daughter. "We started dropping E on Friday at 10 and partied until the following Thursday. Then we went to Tim Horton's and the fuckin' rent-a-cop threw me out, I didn’t even do anythin'. And, right after that my old man put me out.”

The unasked question hangs over us like a gray cloud getting darker by the minute. My daughter is a rescuer, and I've encouraged her thinking that if she cares for something else, she might once again begin to care for herself. From berry-intoxicated waxwings that knocked themselves out on our windows and stray cats with patches of missing fur, she's moved on to troubled teens.

Should I let Lisa crash at our place until she’s back on her feet? Will she ever be?

Lisa. Someone’s daughter.

a walk in the rain
the sudden flash
of a yellow warbler

Published in Bottle Rockets