The Heron's Nest

Volume XVI, Number 4: December 2014

Editors' Choices

old horses
days of endless rain
in their eyes

Ron C. Moss
Leslie Vale, Tasmania
Australia

her ashes in a vase—
once we lit our cabin stove
with drafts of poems

Erling Friis-Baastad
Whitehorse, Yukon
Canada

morning fog
twelve black shoes
on the church steps

Joe McKeon
Strongsville, Ohio


The Heron's Nest Award.

old horses
days of endless rain
in their eyes

Ron C. Moss
Leslie Vale, Tasmania
Australia

I believe we have a lot of drawers in our mind. Like the ones in a Chinese medicine chest, each has a label. Some drawers are opened every day. Some are rarely used. Some are simply forgotten. A great haiku helps open those drawers and leads us to a time and place we have not visited for a while.

With a first reading, I visualized Noah's Ark. Under the veil of perpetual rain, a long line of animals were moving slowly and silently. As a freelance interpreter, I once worked for the Japan Racehorse Association and visited a stable of thoroughbred horses. I remember their eyes: so tranquil and looking like a lake of wisdom. Then my mind drifted to a gallery of 'ema' (a votive horse tablet) at a Japanese temple or shrine. From ancient times, Japanese people have used these tablets to pray for a cure from disease, an easy delivery at birth, or to give thanks for an abundant harvest. I remembered stone stairs at Yushima Tenjin in Tokyo, a shrine devoted to Michizane Sugawara, a 9th century scholar and poet. He has been affectionately called 'God of Learning.' Even now many students visit this shrine and offer a votive tablet for their success in the entrance exam for a college or university.

I am sure that Ron Moss, an Australian, never thought about the Warring States period of 16th century Japan when he composed this haiku. Akira Kurosawa made his iconic movies 'Kagemusha' and 'Ran' based on this period. A lot of interesting historical characters were born then. The Portuguese introduced Christianity and guns to the Japanese. While I looked into the eyes of Moss's horses, my DNA led me to this chaotic era. Brothers killed each other. A son invaded his father's castle. A daughter was forced into a political marriage. In a way, this era was 'days of endless rain.' I wandered the landscape of long-gone years. I touched the ground where soldiers and war horses lay motionless. Then I pictured myself as a warlord who survived. My fighting days were over. With a central government in the capital I could have the luxury of sipping a cup of tea in my tea house. I began to think the endless rain might not be completely negative. If there were no rains, one might not be able to appreciate the sun.

With haiku eyes, I see my inner self. With haiku ears I listen to my surroundings. With haiku tongue I taste my past. With haiku nose I sense my future. With haiku fingers I open and close tiny drawers in my mind.

Fay Aoyagi
December 2014

 

The Heron's Nest XVI.4 (12-14)

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