The Heron's Nest

Volume XX, Number 1: March 2018

Editors' Choices

learning to eat
around bruises
winter apples

Debbi Antebi
London, United Kingdom

the shape
of the wind's persistence
seaside pines

Michele L. Harvey
Hamilton, New York

the sea
crawls out of the mist

Robert Witmer
Tokyo, Japan

The Heron's Nest Award

learning to eat
around bruises
winter apples

Debbi Antebi

A good haiku can shed light on part of the poet's world. The best haiku can also illuminate ours.

In the forty-plus years since graduating from college I've been able to attend my every-fifth-year reunion all but a couple of times. Many changes have taken place over this period including, of course (for a predominately male class), my classmates' cumulative loss of hair and gains in weight. But such metrics are not what have struck me most. Over the decades I've also noticed a less visible but far more profound transformation in how my classmates—and, in truth, I—behave and relate.

During earlier reunions much of the nonverbal "signaling" and actual discourse (couched as it was) revolved around markers of career advancement and material success. Promotions and perks, toney cars and new homes all insinuated themselves into the most casual of exchanges. But around twenty-five years out—just as many of my classmates and I approached the peak of our careers or professions—something shifted. Increasingly our discussions turned to personal relationships, shared interests, overt worries and even setbacks. A certain cockiness gave way to true collegiality and even, at moments, compassion. While I always had fun at reunion, the latest few have offered something deeper and more meaningful.

Did my classmates and I just mature? No doubt. But Debbi Antebi's haiku helps me recall some of the personal conversations I had with classmates the last few reunions. It seems that sooner or later, to one degree or another, life roughs us up. No one goes completely unbruised. We realize we're neither Masters of the Universe nor anything remotely close to that. But in the process we achieve something greater: we become more fully human. With added humility we reclaim our humanity.

Some apples are harder and thicker-skinned than others; they include the Fuji, Gala, Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Rome. These varieties and others can be preserved well beyond their fall picking ("apple" being an autumn kigo, or haiku season word) if stored at just the right temperature, light level and humidity. But in winter apples are "out of season" with even the hardiest being more vulnerable to the natural effects of time. Bruising and worse cannot be put off forever. Yet something curious also occurs. With the passage of time, picked apples generally become sweeter. Yes, we may need to eat around bruises more often, but what remains may be more rewarding.

Such knowledge is just one of the fruits of age and experience . . . and a gentle poetic nudge.

Scott Mason
March 2018


The Heron's Nest XX.1 (3-18)

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