The Heron's Nest Award
her death date
I pause the river
in my cupped hands
San Francisco, California
A family member, close friend, former mentor? The poet doesn't declare the relationship, instead allowing our intuition to inform us. Neither do we know how many anniversaries have passed since the death of this person for whom I believe the writer greatly cared. No matter how recently or long ago it occurred, it is clear that the loss continues to deeply affect the poet. What better place than a river for guardians of nature, haiku poets who seek out nature everywhere, to come for meditation and reflection, for contemplating forces over which we have no control? Anne Frank expressed the notion beautifully:
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. As long as this exists...I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. 1
Though there is no reference to a higher power or any religion in Carolyn Hall's riveting haiku, its undeniable spirituality resonates as clearly as a tolling bell. In ancient times, a running river was often used as a metaphor for life, a stream or force constantly moving onward, and so it is today. Many people whose lives and livelihoods are bound to a moving, ever changing body of water see life itself as a river. This poet collects a bit of the river in her cupped hands. Maybe, like Siddhartha, she is learning from the river, finding her own enlightenment.2 Or does she "pause" the river wishing she could pause her life, even stop time and its consequences? Perhaps, but I also sense that cupping the water, lifting it from its source, holding it, is in some way a ceremony, a memorial to the person for whom she mourns. A simple rite that may help the poet feel in spirit, for a while, the presence of someone she held dear.
 Frank, Anne: The Diary of a Young Girl, Doubleday & Co. (English version), New York, New York, 1952.
 Hesse, Hermann: Siddhartha, New Directions, New York, New York, 1951.