opening my eyes
under winter stars
– the earth has turned
This haiku reminds us of something we know but sometimes forget, the apparent nightly journey of the stars through the sky arises out of the rotation of the earth and not from the movement of the stars themselves (though on a larger scale they move too). No wonder many of the ancients thought of the earth as the centre of the universe. I am reminded of various time-lapse photographs that seem to show the stars as concentric circles or arcs. As the night rolls by Orion descends into the west and Corvus follows, but in fact it is the earth that has turned. This haiku lifts my mind to cosmic things and for this i am grateful. On one level the haiku involves an observation of nature that entails the horizontal axis however i am also led into other kinds of wonderings, a vertical axis of meanings that may or may not have been intended; but intended or not, like many good poems this one opens up spaces where the reader is free to roam. And so – may i roam awhile here . . . waking from ‘a different kind of sleep’ (a period of preoccupation) and ‘opening my eyes’ some years later i see the world has moved, children have grown, people have changed, relationships realigned, some family and friends passed away. I am inclined here to some reflection on my life, with some satisfaction and some remorse . . . Perhaps this haiku has its origin in the poet’s own experience but respecting the reader as it does it opens pathways into our own. A poem with cosmic significance and yet so terribly human.
First Published: paper wasp, spring 2005
Selection & comments by Simon Hanson