the way that little girl skipped
when her mum said yes
This haiku by Lesley Walter has stayed with me for a long time because it is a celebration of living. The ‘haiku moment’, which is a moment repeated the world over, is clear and uplifting. With the opening ‘blue-sky day’ we are put in a positive mood in the hope that something good will happen and so it does. Walter uses the technique of comparison between the two images, the ‘blue-sky day’ and the little girl skipping, to great effect.
The scene is straight forward enough. Set on the street or in a park it centres around an overheard conversation between a little girl and her mother. Parents have the power to affirm or deny and while we don’t want to give in to our children’s every request, when we do, it can mean a great deal. How often do we say ‘no’? How often are people disappointed? It feels good to answer a request in the affirmative.
The little girl’s joy at being allowed a turn on the swings, an ice cream, a play date perhaps, is expressed through the action of skipping. The movement in this haiku lifts it beyond mere observation. Something is happening. We are shown how freely the little girl expresses herself without the slightest hesitation or self-consciousness. We gain a new perspective from reading this haiku which reminds us what it means to be young.
This haiku shows us that there is joy in the world, joy in relationships, joy within ourselves. The final word of the haiku ‘yes’ tells us that.
Sadly, the poet Lesley Walter is no longer with us, but her spirit and her humanity live on in her work.
First published: Life Drawings by Lesley Walter, Walleah Press, 2014
Selection and comments by Vanessa Proctor