the blow-up whale
by the backyard pool
dreams of the absent kids

Gail Hennessy


Reading through the possible cut at the end of line two (adding a touch of humour) it seems that the blow-up whale is dreaming of the absent kids – perhaps dreaming of all the fun they’ve had on previous occasions. Riding with this playful interpretation for a while, as this haiku invites, we might note an element of the surreal in the idea of a whale (in need of an ocean) having to make do with a backyard pool. In the imaginations of the children clinging to the inflatable toy, the whale takes on a life of its own, perhaps enjoying moments of freedom in the open sea. The personification of toys given life in the minds of children is a common and appealing theme in literature and film.

On a more melancholy note, and at a different level of interpretation, it is likely that another person, prompted by the sight of the inflatable whale is reminiscing about the absent children, missing their company and the life and energy their visits bring. A recent email exchange with the poet showed this to be precisely the case. “Our two grandchildren (eight and five) who live in Melbourne, spent Christmas and January with us (with our daughter) while their father visited his family in Turkey. As the summer was so fierce we spent  most of it in the pool and after they left we couldn’t bear to deflate the fish until the end of February!”  The photo below is kindly supplied by the poet.

This poem is filled with wabi sabi, joy and sadness in one. What a delightful haiku.

Previously unpublished

 Selection and comments by Simon Hanson

Gail Hennessy haiku

%d bloggers like this: