library time —
a young boy reads
the fish tank

Rodney Williams


I’m with him ~ the boy at the fish tank that is.  The last line in this well-crafted haiku / senryu comes as a surprise likely to put a smile on one’s face.  If learning and education is conceived in terms of ‘rich experience’ then i suspect this young boy may have used his ‘library time’ very well – who knows what imaginings he enjoyed.  Many an hour i’ve spent gazing into my aunt’s aquarium, a little world of its own and arguably as good as a book.  Waiting in anticipation for the oyster to release a stream of bubbles i’d catch a glimpse of the pearl inside – and looking closely you could see tiny reflections in the bubbles as they meandered to the surface (plenty here to occupy a young scientist). The mermaid was a fascination too, half hidden behind a rock and came to life, i liked to pretend, when no one was looking.  An old wreck lay on its side near a treasure chest spilling with loot – rich with stories for the making.  Zebra danios, swordtails and sharks cruised the tank, an angel hovered near the filter and the neon tetras were simply gorgeous with their dazzling stripe of blue.  I did worry though for the snail who seemed a lonely character stuck with the job of cleaning the glass. The astute teacher might fathom all kinds of subjects here to further engaged our young learner; pirates & old wooden ships, mermaid lore, oysters, pearls, coral reefs & tropical fish . . . research topics galore for the next library time along with some more time to read the tank.

First published: Chrysanthemum, October 2009
Subsequently published in A bird-loving man: haiku and tanka, Ginninderra Press, 2013. Now priced $20 RRP  from
Reviews by Cynthia Rowe & Lorin Ford

Selection & comments by Simon Hanson

%d bloggers like this: