in this blue
the scalloped flight
of one swallow

Janice M Bostok
(1942 – 2011)


Janice Bostok’s haiku is imbued with a sense of space, a space that is empty except for the presence of a swallow. Although the swallow is tiny in relation to the sky it is significant. It is not just any swallow, it is one swallow. On another reading we might wonder if the swallow is one of a flock. By either interpretation the poet has focused her attention on this one bird and has created a powerful and lasting image.

The space in which the swallow flies is referred to specifically in this blue, drawing us closer to the poet’s observation. The colour blue, along with associations of purity and tranquillity enhances feelings of expansiveness.

The word scalloped (reverberating in interesting ways with the word swallow) captures something of the characteristic dips and weavings of swallow flight, adding movement and life to the image. The image invites flights of imagination on our part, into this blue, this sky . . . feeling the sense of freedom and exhilaration that we naturally associate with flight.

I am again mindful of the precarious nature of commenting on haiku, in particular of drawing attention to details where the value of great haiku is invariably more than the sum of their parts. Like many things, haiku are best appreciated in their undivided wholeness. Certainly that is the case here.

Previously published:

You may wish to visit the In Memoriam page hosted in A Hundred Gourds 1:1 December 2011. (Link kindly supplied by Lorin Ford).

Selection and comments by Simon Hanson


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