The Heron's Nest

Volume XVI, Number 2: June 2014

Editors' Choices

night time
in the hospice aquarium
the pulse of fish gills

Joyce Clement
Bristol, Connecticut

late snow
chalking a strike zone
on the basement wall

Bill Cooper
Richmond, Virginia

summer asphalt
the man-made scent
of rain

Peter Newton
Winchendon, Massachusetts


The Heron's Nest Award.

night time
in the hospice aquarium
the pulse of fish gills

Joyce Clement
Bristol, Connecticut

One fascinating aspect of a haiku that makes the reader pause instead of turning the page is its powerful invitation to participate in the moment revealed. The reader's own experiences are just one part of that. The reader ponders the poet's experience as well. For this haiku, that leads to wondering whether the poet is a visitor to the hospice, a caregiver working there, or even the patient. The perspective of each could vary considerably. This is clearly one example of why it is said that it is the reader who completes a haiku.

While the concept of hospice care has medieval roots, its evolution to today's model has provided a source of immeasurable comfort and support for all involved in the final-days experience. Hospice caregivers are a breed apart — truly angels among us. Still, once hospice becomes more than a concept, the patient's life is suddenly as circumscribed as that aquarium. That pulsing of the fish gills is utterly symbolic of the life force that is still offering a quiet hope.

Joyce Clement has perfected this moment by that mood-setting first line. Night time — darkness all around, except for the feeble, compelling light of the aquarium.

Billie Wilson
June 2014

Home Page

The Heron's Nest XVI.2 (06-14)

Next Page