bending nasturtiums
form a green-grub walkway
to the mint

M L Grace

blue-sky

A lovely moment in the garden, so full of life and everything so green: nasturtiums, green-grub and mint. Any gardener will know that these munching grubs can be a nuisance at times, yet in the grander scheme of things we wouldn’t be without them; recycling vegetable matter into soil, food for frogs, lizards and birds, their adult forms flittering from flower to flower and chased by children – all part of the great cycle of life. The image here is brimming with the season, although specifying kigo in this land of seasonal variations is a precarious business. For me this haiku speaks of late winter verging on spring – raindrops beading on nasturtium leaves like little magnifying glasses, mint gone rampant and in amongst this verdant abundance gnawing caterpillars and snails, while slaters are busy in the mulch. It is a pleasure to be taken up close to admire tiny details in the world.

There is an appealing lightness to this haiku, even a touch of humour in the phrase green-grub walkway – how original. We are invited here to imagine the progress of this green-grub (quite likely the same shade of green as its plant host) climbing a slender nasturtium stem bending under its weight and finding itself delivered, by chance or design, into a banquet of mint. Ah mint, even the mention of this much loved herb brings to mind its invigorating scent and refreshing taste. And what did the poet do with these grubs devouring the mint? She ushered them over the hedge where they might live another day.

A gorgeous haiku – elan vital.

First published: Windfall, issue 4, 2016

Selection and comments by Simon Hanson