Salt Rock

Slankamen (lit. ‘Salt-rock’) is a port village sandwiched, like a slice of ham (today roasted), between precipitous loess hills and an inlet of the Danube, where the water hardly moves at all. Mum and I approach the village on a descending serpentine road incised into brittle, yellowish sediments. Alas, no chance to stop the car to take in the postcard view… of red-tiled houses, boats and small yachts dotting the bay, and a church spire dominating the village as might a German governess.

Ten minutes later, we are pacing along the riverside. The Danube is teeming with swans, gulls, pigeons, ducks. The birds have found their cool respite.

We come across a man in an orange baseball cap, checked shirt, slacks and tall rubber boots. He has just locked up his small, shabby boathouse and is now on the move: in his left hand, a sizeable shopping bag. All smiles, as he gives us a rundown of the village’s main points of interest.

‘We’re looking for a weekend house to buy’, I say. ‘There seem to be plenty of empty ones’.

The man points at a couple of houses across the street, says they are on sale.

‘That one over there? 25 grand, the asking price. But, if you ask me, I’d forget it’. Indeed, the broken windows and heavy patina speak of decades of neglect.

‘Must be off now’, the man says. ‘Hunters’ meeting to attend.’

I sneak a look into his bag: it is filled with bottles of the local ‘Deer Beer’. I begin to wonder about this ‘hunters’ meeting’ on such a scorching afternoon.

‘So, what do you hunt in these parts, then?’

‘Partridge, hare, duck. You name it!’

The heat is relentless: Mum, now so dazed by sunlight she forgets where we are walking to.  At last, the floating restaurant, ‘Quay’, with a terrace overlooking the stagnant inlet and its legions of birds.

As Mum and I gorge on pan-fried perch, a large fish jumps from the Danube’s muddy shallows, each time falling back with a loud splash. I sense it may be pleading, ‘Hey, that’s my cousin you’re eating there!’


From time to time

the flap of outstretched wings –

a windless afternoon

8 Responses to “Salt Rock”

  1. Reblogged this on Frank J. Tassone and commented:
    #Haiku Happenings #8: Branko of Icebox’s latest #haibun!

  2. “As Mum and I gorge on pan-fried perch” – I love how you so roundly identify yourself and your mum with the local wildlife!

  3. david mccullough Says:

    Great work Branko. Felt like I was there with you.

  4. Appealing imagery of how active the wildlife is in the area but, also was struck by the wildlife`s potential fate of easily winding up on someone`s plate.

    and then sorrowful:
    cormorant boat

    Did you have Deer Beer with your perch?

    • Thanks for sharing the haiku G! How interesting, two adjectives in one haiku by Basho!!

      No Deer beer for me as I was driving that day. Mum did order it. Google ‘Jelen pivo’ , the label with a picture of a stag’s head on the beer bottle. Deer beer tastes great too. It beats both Kirin and Asahi imo.

      • Yes, two real adjectives in the original, too, and not just the translation – the first and third words: おもうしろうて やがてかなしき 鵜舟かな Omoshiroute yagate kanashiki ubune kana. Gerald’s mention of this Basho haiku was most apposite.

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