still no word
through another window
On writing great haiku Isamu Hashimoto of The Mainichi reminds us that the composer must show only a small part of a haiku’s meaning ‘while implying a vast, submerged underworld.’ This haiku does this most admirably. We do not know what news lays in wait here and this opens the way for us to have a direct emotional connection through our own experience. We all know the feelings associated with waiting for news of particular importance, news that may alter the course of one’s life. This shared experience allows us to be present and to sympathize with the poet’s melancholy, but more than this, one may for a moment become the subject depicted here, the one observing the moon on this sleepless night. The slow passing of time adds to this sense of restlessness (as implied by the progress of the moon through the sky with its light now coming through another window). There is an unmistakable sense of human fragility in the face of uncertainty here and a certain cinematic quality to the scene adds a touch beauty – perhaps the subject is silhouetted before the window, perhaps they are seated further back in an otherwise dark room – with their gaze drawn to the moon. It is left for the reader to imagine which phase of the moon applies here along with any associations that might carry. Whether there is some solace in the moon’s appearance through the window is likewise left for us to fathom . . . a lovely haiku.
First Published: Frogpond vol. 24:2, 2001
Selection & comments by Simon Hanson