Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The wren & I

Yesterday's poem grew out of what I originally thought was a haiku moment, but the poem itself wasn't a haiku. As I said yesterday -- it turned into more of an abstract line of reasoning than I'm usually comfortable with in my haiku. It also personified the bird a bit by presuming that we were having similar moments of consciousness. The haiku/non-haiku debate is just semantics, though -- I'm pretty happy with it as a short poem.

Now that it's out of my system, though, I wanted to go back to the original inspiring moment to see if I could coax a haiku out of it. Here's the scene: I was walking past a tree (oak?), turned to look at it, made eye contact with a Carolina wren on a branch, and after a brief moment holding eyes, it flew away in a flash.

It was a rich moment, but I'm having trouble re-thinking it into a different, more haiku-like poem. The meaningful elements have already combined to inspire my neural pathways in a certain direction, so now asking them to re-shuffle the elements or come to a different conclusion feels artificial. Let's try shifting focus and involving some of the senses instead of just the brain:

dusty, hot --
the squatting wren and I
eye to eye

That might have potential. I can feel the dry, dusty air in my eyes in that 'eye to eye.' And hopefully it captures some of the bird's personality, as Carolina wrens really do have a distinctive way of spreading their feet, squatting, and cocking their heads to look at you. We'll see how it reads in the morning.

(I realize that I've said that several times on this blog already, and it's always amazing to me how radically my opinion of a haiku can change from one reading to the next. The challenge is to not just throw every single one of them out when my opinion swings to the negative... But yes -- we'll see in the morning.)

Another option is to step back and focus on the hold this moment seems to have on me still:

the wren & I
eye to eye --

still thinking about it

That takes the poem more into the realm of senryu, where the element of human behavior takes precedence over the observed, natural element. Even with that consideration, though, I'm not sure this one stands up at all -- that last line is a clunker, and it would be too unclear without the back-story I've provided here.

We'll see in the morning.

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