a child runs past
long lily leaves
wave in her breeze
Selection and comments by Julia Wakefield
Dawn’s haiku conjures up the brevity of childhood; in the measure of our lives it is gone as quickly as a child can run past a bunch of lilies. The device of using the middle line to refer both to the movement of the child and the movement of the lilies embeds the human element in the natural; to the lilies the breeze created by the child is no different from the gentle breeze of Spring. The lilies wave as if to greet the child. And the child is gone – we are left with the lilies, their movement providing evidence that the child was there a moment before.
This haiku has a poignant significance for me. In the last two years I have been blessed with three new grandchildren, but none of them live nearby. One is in Queensland, the other two are in Canada. We communicate by Skype, but I don’t get to hold them, feel their soft skins and smell their child scents. For a brief time, after my granddaughter learned to walk, I was able to show her the scents, sounds, tastes and textures of my garden. She sampled our little crop of grapes, learned that only red tomatoes were good to eat, compared pebbles to sandy soil and listened to the rustle of a bush as she brushed past it. I must have done the same thing with our children, but it was a completely new sensation to show new things to a child to whom I am deeply connected, yet who is not as familiar as my own children. She seemed more like a wild creature, slowly learning how to live in a world that she wants to name and tame, and I was one of those strange things out there, not quite part of her everyday world, but someone she knew she could trust. She has moved to another world in Queensland, and next time we meet we will have to renew our relationship all over again; she will have grown so quickly in the intervening months, learning to talk in sentences and absorbing experiences I can’t even imagine. She will be almost a different person.
When I walk in my garden the grapevine and the rustling bush remind me of that precious time I had with my granddaughter. She had so few words to describe the natural world around her but that made her seem even more a part of it.
First published: Haiku Bindii Willow Light vol. 2, 2015.