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The Heron's Nest

a haikai journal ...


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Volume IV, Number 6: June 2002.
Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

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

Heron's Nest Award

      creek rising–
      a treefrog’s heart beats
      against the windowpane

                                            Anna Tambour

The season of increase is upon the land. There is a faster tempo, an acceleration of life at this time of the year. With the rains, plants and creatures grow or reproduce in their respective patterns. I am not certain of the precise season of this haiku. I do know that it has strong seasonal reference. The writer lives in southeast Australia. In Florida (U.S.A.) bright green tree frogs are most audible and visible in our rainy season extending from early summer. In Japanese saijiki, "frogs" are of spring, but “rising water” is summer.

We easily see what the poet sees. A swollen, rushing creek is blurred by torrential rain. Pan back, telescoping to where the poet stands. There, in view, is a tiny frog. Peering at it, we join the poet in finding the rapid pulse of the animal, visible as we are seeing it's pale underside. Ahh, it is on a window, the poet's window. Perhaps there are rivulets of rain flowing down beside our frog. In reverse, we are drawn back outside. We readers may also share in what Anna Tambour hears. Mixed with sounds of the creek and drumming rain are harsh squawks, high-pitched, unlovely “barks.” The night rings with these incessant mating calls. Although some people keep them as pets, there is no way I’d willingly spend a night in the presence of a terrarium resonant with breeding calls. I recall a house I once owned where the master bedroom wall seemed to be a haven for tree frogs. I confess, for the sake of sleep, to having gone outside in the middle of the night and squirted a hose up under the eaves to dislodge them.

Tree frogs of my experience are big eyed for their nocturnal life, with bulbous toe-pads to allow great clinging ability, even to windows. Unlike their aquatic cousins, many species commonly known as tree frogs live most of their lives out of the water. The egg masses may be attached over water or near it. The tadpoles do need water even if only in the natural container of a bromeliad or the crook of a tree limb. These frogs eat insects and may visit the house’s glass, in the manner of spiders, because that is where bugs congregate. Little frogs are featured in the diet of many if not most predators. Camouflage and stillness are their weapons for both hunting and avoiding the hunter. This window-pane frog is hiding and is only obvious to humans.

Vulnerability. The focus of this haiku is the beating heart of such a small animal with such a rapid pulse. The poet did not put it overtly, but these frogs are so cute! One wants to say “Awww . . .” Anna Tambour has shared this with us and shared it beautifully. The forest is green and wet–full of life.

  Paul MacNeil
June 2002

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