In his book of translated Haiku, The Moon in the Pines, Richard Clements says, upon reading a Haiku, the reader is ‘startled into a momentary but full understanding of the poet’s experience’ in that moment of reading. However, the words don’t quite capture the fullness of the moment. Through the inscription of a ‘partial idea’ using words, the Haiku poet leaves space for the reader to question the omissions. In doing so, the Haiku comes alive through the reader’s feelings and memories. This was my experience when I read Chiyo-Ni’s Haiku.
‘My hunter of dragonflies
How far would he have strayed today?’
Chiyo-Ni does not have to say that her ‘hunter of dragonflies’ is her son. The second line tells us that her son is not alive anymore. We recognise this through the past tense ‘would he have.’ We understand the Haiku equally through omission and inclusion.
For me, the Haiku came to life by filling the omissions with my own memories and feelings of loss, and so I wrote a response.
‘What would you wish for
as you blew out twelve candles
my unborn seedling?’
Clements, J. (2000) The Moon in the Pines. London: Frances Lincoln Limited
Image credit: Bru-nO at Pixabay