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Valentine Awards 2001

The Heron's Nest
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Volume III, Number 7: September, 2001.
Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Editors' Choices •  Haiku: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 •  Index of Poets

Heron's Nest Award

      spring thunder–
      from the center of the pine stump
      a pine

The tree is named twice: the image of the tree that was and the tree that is. In its literal observation, the statement is simple but powerful. We are presented with the sight of a young tree growing from a stump, and the sound of a storm.

Experienced haijin will know that this pine (the one to which Master Basho wished us to go in order to learn) is an “all-season” kigo topic. The image of new growth issuing from an old stump combines well with the overt springness of the author's first line. Spring represents both the promise of growth and the certainty of change. The “truth” of the pine reveals the “truth” of life's struggle for existence.

The poplar/aspen/birch family of trees, the maples, and others can sprout from the stump or roots of a fallen giant. Not so the pine. Pines and other conifers reproduce only from seed. During a previous autumn, a seed from a pine settled on the stump of another pine and germinated. As the new tree grows, less and less will be seen of the old tree's form or substance. The pine whose stump is in naia's haiku was felled either by saw, disease, or storm. It has become a place for young life to find purchase.

The long second line and brief third line of this haiku may appear unbalanced visually, but the rhythm is natural and does not feel too long. In fact, the visual impact of the last two lines effectively furthers the tree-to-tree comparison. The construction is verbless. The author's craft seems to disappear early in the reading. Her treatment of a traditional kigo is not a mere weather report, but is instead a close observation. It animates the participation to be shared in by readers: feeling the drop of barometric pressure, the stillness, the prominence of any sound in the forest. Naia has set a wonderful course to the discovery of relationships. She, along with the pines, the season, and even the ominous storm, work together to show us humans our natural place in the scheme of things.

Life and death combine in this poem. Things will not be easy for the young tree, even though it has taken root. There is a confluence of hope and threat. A storm rumbles nearby.

  Paul MacNeil
September, 2001