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The Heron's Nest

a haikai journal ...


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Volume V, Number 1: January 2003.
Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

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

Heron's Nest Award

      tai chi
      with my wife . . .
      morning glories open

                                            Randy M. Brooks

      Randy Brooks believes “that every haiku has within it a confirmation of the human heart being fully alive.”* This one certainly does. The fluid tai chi movements match the soft unfolding of morning glories. A new day begins. The participatory presence of the poet's wife completes the joy.

      Arms and legs open and close. The couple inhale and exhale, their diaphragms rising and falling as they relax into the ancient dance-like postures. They sense a connection with nature and inclusion in the cycle of days, seasons, years. Present moments, fully lived, expand into timelessness.

      Tai chi could be performed by a couple of any age. Millions of Chinese people, many of them well into their nineties, gather outdoors every morning to “move the chi.” Practitioners credit the regimen with sustaining physical fitness, increasing mental alertness, and encouraging spiritual awakening. Practice puts them in touch with the vital energy of the body. Because the haiku is signed and I know the poet, I visualize Randy and Shirley Brooks instead of an elderly Chinese man and woman. I know that their marriage is strong and of long duration. Clearly this is a love poem, a beautiful tribute to the poet's wife. I have no sense, though, of intruding upon a private moment. The haiku is both restrained and expansive. The harmony it celebrates comfortably includes the reader.

      The morning glory is an early autumn kigo in Japan. In America it has a long blooming season and is likely to be prominent from July through October or even longer. The language of poetry encourages us to imagine a particular morning in late summer or early autumn and a similar season in the lives of the people portrayed. That tai chi is a lifetime art suggests associations with the continuity of this particular marriage and the promise of the relationship's opening through all seasons to the possibilities of each new day.

      Kigo connect individual haiku to others that use the same images, creating a powerful literary context that can add layers of meaning and ongoing resonance. Here are three of my favorites about morning glories:

with morning glories                        morning-glory –
a man eats breakfast                       the well-bucket entangled
– that is what I am                           I ask for water

Basho                                            Chiyo-ni
          trans. by Makoto Ueda                   trans. by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi

                              leaving    all the morning glories    closed

                              Elizabeth Searle Lamb

      In Japanese this flower is called asagao, which translates as “morning face.” The subtle difference reminds me that while haiku has become a universal genre, the languages in which it is composed and read will add their nuances and patinas. That is as it should be. Each superb haiku about morning glories will find a unique place among the others. Randy's new one interacts meaningfully with the three classics. The editors of The Heron's Nest are pleased to begin the year 2003 by sharing it with our readers.



Peggy Willis Lyles
January 2003

* Quotation from "Consonance as the Genesis of Humor in Haiku" haijinx Vol. I, Issue 2, Summer 2001.

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