Haiku

      by Elizabeth Kirschner

 

This is how the dream wanted it: a low flower deep in my body. I carry it as one would a vernal pond which the frogs will steal away in their jaws, in deep music: the water will vanish into grass. It is so. The low flower climbs all through me until its head is my only brain, until its hands are as calm as moonlight. I was ordered to write 24 haiku in one day: 17 syllables an hour. Impossible! But then words made beautiful, brief appearances: leaf, ash, wind, arranging themselves as one would stones in a garden. In every haiku was the blessing of the low flower, its singular weight—Be one as you may never again. Never again will I prune these dead sticks off the rhododendron, nor watch the neighbor girl attempt to ride her bike without training wheels for the first time. How her feet skim the ground as though it will swallow her! When she falls, as she is destined to do, and cries loudly in her father’s arms—I weep, too. Little girl, the roads are often dark and few of us will guide you. You are right to cling to your father for as long as you can, here in the April twilight, on this dead end street, while I look on, hands on my belly as if they had been born there.

 

From The North American Review, September/October 1993, page 47.