WHR August 2017‎ > ‎

Editor's choice

August 2017

Editor’s Choice


            lover's touch
            the peony unfolds
            pink by pink


Debbi Antebi

While I was going through the first selection of haiku submissions for this issue, my peonies were dying one flower after another outside my study window, exquisite white turning to ugly brown. Then I came across this haiku by Debbi.

As I had just been admiring the beauty of these gorgeous flowers in my garden, I could visualise the peony of Debbi’s. Peony has been called the king of flowers in China. In Japan, a beautiful woman is compared to it. In both countries, it has widely been used as a design for artefact, especially ceramics, and as a favourite subject of painting. What the peony is to the Japanese is what roses are to the French or English.

What made me pay attention to this haiku, however, was not the beauty of the peony. Beautiful haiku poems about beautiful flowers abound anywhere and everywhere in the world. And they are OK at best and not a little boring at worst. What attracted my attention lies in the author’s magical touch in the first line. Why the lover? What touch? What has the lover got to do with the peony?

I don’t particularly look after my peonies very well, mainly because of the lack of time. As a result, their performance is patchy. By contrast, I wonder if this lover in the haiku has green fingers? With plenty of good care and the loving touch, the peony in question is given the greatest opportunity to excel itself and to show elegantly all it’s got. This is a naïve and innocent interpretation of this haiku.

Yes, there is double-entendre here, and a more exciting and sizzling interpretation. The peony is a metaphor for (and its hidden or true meaning being) the flower of the lady’s body itself (and heart). Or, is one too much influenced by Lady Chatterley’s Lover?