the squeak of my hands
on my daughter’s coffin
Lenard D. Moore
while listening to her poem
the summer wind
Lenard D. Moore
Two summer poems share this month’s Heron’s Nest Award. Infused with raw
sorrow, they exemplify compression and restraint. Each is pure and true.
Each moves the editors to profound respect for poet Lenard D. Moore and
expanded appreciation of the power of literal images to communicate deep
feeling and significant human experience.
The first haiku focuses on a thin, high-pitched sound like no other.
Produced by the friction of sweaty hands over the smooth, hard surface
of the coffin, it hurts the ears and pierces the heart. The father’s
hands continue to provide and protect, but they cannot alter the
terrible fact of his daughter's death. The seasonal reference is
familiar and authentic. In context, it underscores the clear truth that
this death is out of season and out of sequence. The squeak reaches
beyond words to become a primal cry of pain and smallness.
No reader can go the full distance into this experience with the poet.
The intense sadness is uniquely his. The haiku lets us see it and hear
it and leaves us with awed admiration for his endurance and his
consummate mastery of haiku expression. I believe “hot afternoon” stands
well with the finest poetry of loss in all literature, and I encourage
teachers and scholars to test that judgment.
The second award-winner is as lyrical as the first is discordant. Though
less experienced and accomplished than her father, the late Maiisha
Moore was a poet, too, and I believe it is her poem Lenard is listening
to. I can easily imagine doing that with him. We concentrate on her
words and feelings, closing our eyes to shut out distractions. The
summer wind touches us, and this time the physical sensation is a
blessing consonant with what we hear and feel. One poet participates in
the spirit of another, and all are linked to the on-going phenomena of
the physical world.
The haiku poet’s work is exacting. He must participate fully in human
experience and capture deeply felt moments of that experience in simple
words, without comment or interpretation. Lenard D. Moore’s “hot
afternoon” and “eyes closed” are superb products of haiku discipline. We
are grateful for first rights to publish them.