Table of Contents


Valentine Awards 2001

The Heron's Nest
a haikai journal ... 

Home  •  Journal  •  About  •  Connections

Volume III, Number 9: November, 2001.
Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

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

Heron's Nest Award

      funeral procession
      the stillness of cotton blossoms
      in sunlight
                                            Lenard D. Moore

This is a profoundly peaceful poem, and at the same time, a poem of stark contrasts. The procession is in motion. So too are those left behind, who must themselves go on. The blossoms are not moving, nor is the deceased, now as still as flowers on a windless day. Yet there is movement within the seemingly motionless blossoms. The petals are imperceptibly unfurling and changing color. What of the spirit of the person who has just passed away?

The most common variety of cotton grown in the United States is “Upland” cotton. Its blossoms are white only on the day they open. On the second day they turn pink, and as the blossoms mature, the color deepens to a purplish red. When the petals fall, the bolls grow to the size of eggs, turn brown, and burst, yielding their wealth of soft white fibers.

I envision the blossoms in this poem to be a deep shade of pink, blooming on short bushes that have dark green, heart-shaped leaves. The season is probably late summer. The sun is warm and bright; the sky is blue. In a scene so abundant with life and color, a hearse is quite a contrast. The mood is somber and dignified. In each of the vehicles are friends and relatives of the deceased, most clothed in dark suits and dresses. How many spun of cotton, I wonder?

Although serene, Lenard's haiku has a tangible sense of drama, as if the universe is holding its collective breath. At the same time, there is obvious forward motion, the sense of continuance. I also have the impression that this scene was observed from a distance, yet not physically distant. It is as though the poet was in an altered state of consciousness, a waking dream.

While reading this poem, I imagine myself a child. A friend and I have climbed a tree next to a cotton field, not too far from a country road. For us the only reality is close at hand, nothing but the joy of summer play. The sun is shining, birds are singing, our imaginations spin fantasies of heroes and villains. Life seems as though it will go on forever. In the distance a line of cars comes into view, moving slowly. Only their tops show above the sea of brilliant pink flowers. A long, shiny black hearse is in the lead. We stop playing to watch, hushed by the unsettling, unspoken question of our mortality. One by one the hum of each car engine passes. As the sound of the last car fades in the distance, the day is again as it was. Yet, somehow, it's not.

Lenard D. Moore has effectively recreated a spellbinding and mysterious experience. His words have given me occasion to pause at length, and to more deeply marvel.

  Christopher Herold
November, 2001