the village church
holds up a cross
Haiku selection and comments by Beverley George
The poem offers a clearly accessible image with which readers will be familiar but opens to various interpretations.
A quick reading might suggest an idyllic day on which local people gather for worship and thanksgiving, but if we sit with the poem awhile other possibilities emerge.
A ‘cloudless sky’ indicates that no rain is likely. Perhaps the countryside has been in drought and crops are failing. ‘Holds up a cross’ might then suggest petitioning: people scanning the sky for rain clouds and relief, the continuation of their livelihoods.
A darker interpretation in recent years might be farmers longing for legislature against coal-seam gas mining on arable land and the resultant and irrevocable damage to aquifers.
The choice of the word ‘village’ rather than ‘town’ suggests a strong sense of community. The image is not static. It invites nostalgia for decades past when a small church was often an integral component of daily life, social as well as religious. Tennis clubs and dance nights organised by church groups were not unusual.
If I further consider the poem my mind moves to leadlight windows, burnished wooden pews, offertory plates passed along each row and handshakes from the minister at the service’s end.
A well-crafted haiku that demonstrates the power of this brief genre to captivate and linger.
First published: Windfall: Australian Haiku Issue 1, 2013
Illustration by Pim Sarti.