turn of the year
after catherine wheels
The imagery of fireworks along with the contrast of light and dark certainly delights the visual imagination; like the stars, fireworks make a rather poor show in daylight and it is in the darkness that their full beauty is revealed. The first line, the turn of the year, while referring to the new year may also imply de facto to the earth’s journey around the sun culminating in the New Year; an event typically celebrated with fireworks. The association of the turn of the year with the motion of catherine wheels in this sense is extremely effective. I am seduced by these spirals, rotations and cycles especially of the twirling catherine wheels and cannot help but gaze upon them; i wonder where lies their deeper appeal. The writer also utilises a familiar phenomenon of vision to add further depth to this poem – after exposure to a bright light; darkness or semi darkness appears darker than usual until our eyes adjust (as when going from a bright room into a darker one) – is there some element of metaphor here? – after the euphoria of New Year celebrations, the flash and bang of fireworks, the making of resolutions along with our hopes of renewal we return once again to the more subdued light of ordinary living. Eventually with the turning of the years we approach another kind of darkness, that of the unknown – it is interesting to note that the poet could have opted to use the term darkness, in the third line but chose instead – the dark i wonder if the definite article, the – was chosen to denote something more significant than a state of being (darkness) but the ‘thing itself’ – the dark – i leave the reader to their own contemplations here. A truly stunning haiku.
First Published: A Hundred Gourds 2:1 December 2012
Selection & comments by Simon Hanson