. . . .drought
..the sun sinking
through sheep ribs

Quendryth Young


Searching through a myriad of excellent haiku to choose only one on which to write a commentary proved a difficult task until one chose me. Since I first read Quendryth’s haiku last December it has haunted me. Perhaps it is because of my rural upbringing that this poem strikes straight to the heart.

The devastating image is timely. Brutal in its honesty it relates to spectacles currently on our screens.

The simple one word first line sets the scene – drought – possibly years of drought.

The second and third lines impact with their frank, confronting imagery: the sun slowly descending and illuminating the ribs of an unfortunate sheep. We are reminded that the sun brings life yet can take it as well. The image of an unforgiving sun gradually sinking is a cruel counterpart to the hapless animal, starving and thirsty, slowly dropping to its knees and eventually succumbing to the drought.

Quendryth tells me she wrote this haiku from the memory of a visit to friends’ property near Tottenham in country New South Wales. They had a Border Leicester stud in the sixties, and were experiencing severe drought conditions. Quendryth witnessed the scene which she has captured. The potent image stayed with her and the current drought situation in many areas of rural Australia has brought the vision back to her.

As is typical with great haiku, this one has left its impression.

Selection and commentary by Gavin Austin

First published: Echidna Tracks Issue 2: Landscapes. December 17, 2018

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