two hands
on her teacup
still it shakes

Andre Surridge, 1951 – 2019


I like this haiku because I can picture it: the lady, the teacup, the chair she might be sitting in. But more than that, because I wonder what anxiety or illness may be causing this person’s hands to shake. This shaking may cause her consternation as she tries to steady the cup with two hands, or, she might be resigned to it. It might also cause some concern for a possible companion. Perhaps because of my experience in caregiving, I imagine an elderly lady with dementia holding her teacup in the company of a caregiver or family member. A teacup is both a delicate and elegant vessel, and many of our elderly gentlewomen display ornate, decorative teacups that will be brought out for guests to enjoy. The first two lines of the haiku communicate this lady’s desire to retain control of her dignity. The movement in the poem is audible. The first two lines are silent as the lady steadies her cup, the two words in line one parallel two hands on her teacup. The simplicity of line two, on her teacup, acts as a pivot, while in line three the repetition of the sibilant ‘s’ suggests for me the swirling movement of the tea, while the pregnant pause between these lines suggests a pause perhaps before she raises the teacup to her mouth.

Haiku previously published: One Hundred Petals: A Collection of Modern English Haiku and Senryu by Andre Surridge (2019)

Selection and commentary by Anne L. Curran, New Zealand

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