water reverie
a wingtip touches
its reflection

Helen Davison

blue-sky

One feels invited to share the reverie here, to be lost a while in that region of ‘the almost conscious’. There is no hint in this haiku of any separation between the poet’s inner experience and this fleeting occurrence in the world outside. This dissolution of boundaries between subjective experience and the world around us is one of the aspirations of haiku, and as we know, not always easy to attain.

While reflections have a pristine clarity in still water, they are rendered intriguing in other ways by swirls, ripples and turbulence and as with a pebble thrown into the stillness of a pond, the transition from stillness to motion has a certain mesmeric quality. Whether in motion or in stillness, there is something about water that disposes a sensitive mind to reverie and why this is so is a worthy meditation. There is an added layer of richness here in the ambiguity of whether to conceive the sudden appearance of a bird, out of the blue so-to-speak, as interrupting the reverie or as a part of it. I note with interest that the etymology of the word reverie comes from the Old French, reverbe delirious and its ultimate source is unknown.

I am quite taken by the symmetry implied here, ever so fleeting, of a bird and its reflection, wingtip to wingtip – a breath taking image. On reading this my daughter reminded me that being a reverie, the wingtip might belong to anything we are inclined to imagine; ah yes, that is so. This haiku acquires depth with every reading and what a joy as a reader to have this wingtip skimming the water’s surface sending ripples through our minds.

First published: paper wasp, winter 2016

Selection and comments by Simon Hanson