This morning during my walk I noticed a slash of green which swayed with the wind. A blade of grass? But no, there he was, a very small lizard, as green as a shamrock and motionless except for his swaying tail. We watched each other for a moment, he with wary golden eyes and I with admiration. Then I went on with my walk and he returned to measuring the wind.
That green lizard’s tail
Waves along with brisk, warm air…
Testing speed of wind.
The green lizard is one of many treasures to be found in a morning’s outing. Most of these are easily overlooked, like buttercups growing in a neighbor’s grass or one fragile star-shaped white flower, doubtless a weed but lovely anyway. Other marvels move so quickly that I can barely see them, a bluebird on wing, perhaps, or a yellow finch that flies by in a flash of gold. I’ve tried to capture these moments in haiku—not always successfully, I’m afraid.
Flash of swift bird’s wings
Against cloudless spring sky…
Bright blue against blue.
By no means am I expert or even adept at haiku, but I love this poetry form. At best, haiku has a spare elegance that relies on eye, mind and spirit to observe something, capture its essence, record it, and move on. Like an artist’s sketch that is swiftly done but which holds everything worthwhile, the haiku says little but tells all.
While growing up, writing haiku was a game. The familiar 5-7-5 syllable count was easy to master, even for a child. Later, I learned that there were rules and season words, but even that didn’t take away from the enjoyment. I was hooked.
A friend who is a haiku master has told me of retreats where poets gather to observe nature and write on a selected topic. This process must produce fine poetry and create an atmosphere for sharing and inspiration, but I have never tried it. My own efforts are ordinary and simple and are mostly about ordinary things.
Like my green lizard, like raindrops on pine needles, like the swirl of monarch butterflies flying above while of their members lies, wings torn, on the sidewalk—the life force is full of movement, triumph, grief, joy and… frogs.
Yes, surely. The little green frogs that make such a powerful racket are haiku-worthy, too. The other day I found a determined specimen crawling up a weed stem, too focused on its purpose to notice me crouching beside it. Who knows what that purpose was, but to the frog it had to be incredibly important, and so, of course, needed recording:
Tiny frog works hard
To reach source of light and food…
Even frogs have dreams.