My friend and colleague Seth La Tour is a brave soul. He has started a blog “one poem every day,” which is pretty much what it sounds like.
He writes a new poem every day and posts it. Mostly he writes haiku.
I’m not sure I get haiku. By which I mean I really don’t get haiku. It comes from a cultural tradition so different from my own that I hesitate to claim any knowledge.
But, every now and then reading haiku, I get a glimpse of something … a whiff … a hint.
Seth wrote one a few days ago that gave me that twinge:
old, red butter dish/
doing your one job so well/
on the countertop
Something about its directness, its simplicity and its sheer concreteness gave me that feeling I get when I think I have apprehended the best of the haiku from Japan. For me, it’s a little like catching a glimpse of something in peripheral vision. When you look at it directly, it’s gone.
There was a significance in this simple moment. There was “something” the poet perceived and recorded.
I sensed the same sort of thing when experiencing a Japanese Tea Ceremony. It was so simple, yet precise. There was something there. But I couldn’t quite apprehend it. (Then my knees started to ache and I had to stand up.)
We know that haiku master Basho also followed the Way of Tea, so there is clearly a deep connection.
I have tried haiku, but am not satisfied I have the clarity and tranquility required. Here’s one I didn’t burn:
As night turns to day
Summer’s last full moon slips down
Making not a sound