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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Going for a Walk – magnificent trees – commentary

Going for a Walk with Guest Editor Deborah Karl-Brandt

The late Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh could see water in all its transformations. Water in the form of a cloud would soon become rain, a river, the sea, and it would help grow plants and trees. The trees would flourish and become paper on which the haijin would write their poetry, so that the cloud (water) would eventually be contained within the poetry itself. Nothing can exist by itself. Let’s take a walk together to follow the different paths of water and see where they will lead us.

Below is Deborah’s commentary for magnificent trees:

sprouting
from a fallen giant
a thousand mushrooms

Barry Smith
New Zealand

I have been watching this one tree stump in the forest for several years. When will they come out again, how many will there be this year? The yellow fruiting bodies of a mushroom. Year after year, the wood becomes softer, more porous, wetter, the mushrooms grow unimpressed and clearly thriving. Feasting off the remains of what once was a giant tree. Even in death the tree becomes a source of life. This reminds me of a truth that fascinates me, but also frightens me: life and death intermingle, are mutually dependent. A transformation that no one can stop.

missing you
magnificent trees…
house on moon

Bidyut Prabha Gantayat
Bhubaneswar, Bharat

If you want to know what loneliness means, read the Chinese myth of Chang’e and her husband. After taking an elixir of immortality and becoming a goddess, she was transferred to the moon with only a rabbit for company. She was doomed to long forever for a husband she could no longer have. No way back to happiness and love for both of them.

What will become of us if we screw up this planet? Will we change things for the worse on the moon too? We all know what it means to have a pattern, don’t we? Do you really want to live on an alien planet? Imagine all the things we can’t have that we will sorely miss. Walking freely among lush greenery, breathing in the fresh air. We are made for life on earth, not for another place.

heat wave
the fig tree drops all its leaves
to save its fruit

Corine Timmer
Faro, Portugal

This poem touched me deeply. Trees are often compared to female ancestors (mother, grandmother), but here the tree, which is a fig tree and so closely related to Eve, the Christian female part of the first human couple, seems like a real mother. No matter what, she will protect her children by taking measures that may result in her own death.

my beloved’s ashes
at the tree’s root
her monument

Linus Blessing
Switzerland

The symbolism of the tree is very old. In various religions, trees support the heavens as the axis of the world; in some, they connect the realm of the dead with the world of humans and the sphere of the divine. For some years now, burials in cemetery forests have become increasingly popular in Germany. The legal regulations do not allow the ashes to be scattered, they must be buried in an urn. In Holland, however, scattering is possible and on my last vacation I almost stumbled over such a burial in the truest sense of the word.  It was one of the most impressive experiences in my life. The thought of resting at the foot of such a huge living being and being able to reenter the cycle of life in this way is touching and beautiful.

trees…
watching
me
g
r
o
w

Melissa Dennison
UK

This haiku shares some of its characteristics with concrete poetry. The choice of words forms the shape of a tree, which in turn emphasizes the effect of the words. Moreover, it can be read both from top to bottom and from bottom to top. Man and trees, forest and individual, nature and culture mingle and flow into one another. The form and vocabulary are perfectly suited to convey the poet’s intention.

komorebi—
between us
a soft apology

Nalini Shetty
Mumbai, India

After an argument, the first tentative approach. I like this poem very much because the first line opens like a window into the setting and mood of this poem. Komorebi is a Japanese word that describes rays of sunlight falling through trees and tree leaves. It also symbolizes the Japanese love of nature. So here we have a word that is able to create a delicate frame (the absence of light disappears as the mood brightens) in a touching love poem.

visitors gaze for hours
on a single tree —
Sri Maha Bodhi

Radhika De Silva
Sri Lanka

A magnificent old tree. Revered as something sacred. People come to see it, they pray, some take selfies to post on social media. This tree was already a living being on this planet when the Romans walked the earth. It was already there before Christ was born. In comparison, we are short-lived creatures. Barely there for the blink of an eye. And yet we are destroying the rainforest and the taiga, the living, breathing lungs of our planet. This tree is a survivor of time, it has survived to this day. People come to see it, but in the end it is just a tree. But perhaps we also need to change our perspective. Perhaps there is a sacredness in every tree and in every living being that is worth recognizing?

for my birthday pine cones at my feet

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

We live in a society where we constantly feel that there is something we are lacking. Advertising constantly suggests to us that we need to consume in order to be ourselves: that new ice cream sundae looks tempting, the fortieth black handbag is a must-have because a black handbag is just our thing, that expensive necklace, those fashionably cut linen trousers. When is enough enough? What is really worth our attention? Perhaps a trip into nature on our birthday. A beautiful day spent together with people we love. And on top of that (and even for free), the smell of pine cones. Even if the lyrical I is alone out there on the walk, how could it feel lonely surrounded and held by nature? Some things are valuable, some things can’t be bought.

inherited bonsai
leaving
the unwanted branch

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD

This haiku touches me emotionally. Especially in times of grief, family support is so important and often a death or inheritance results in a dispute that divides the family. This poem can be interpreted in different ways. A single bonsai, not a forest, not a grove, no, a single tree that is strictly nurtured and is now given the opportunity to determine its own growth. It could be the black sheep of the family, who is perhaps not so black after all. It could be a break-up of the family into different branches that don’t like each other. Either way the family dynamic is disturbed, but at the same time it is also subject to transformation, perhaps towards a better future where growth is possible.

forest walk
so many shades of green
so many shades of me

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, WA

The first line sets the scene and makes us feel the loneliness. A man is walking alone in the forest. A forest with countless trees around him. All different in size and shape, even the color green appears in so many different shades. Here we have two strongly contrasting images (individual and mass). Do we need to know which trees we are talking about? No, because by choosing the word ‘forest’ the poet creates anonymity and the image of countless faceless individuals in a crowd. But there is something else. This poem comes alive through the repetition in the second and third lines. The poet delves deeper into the feelings of the lyrical self, who is just like the trees. It has so many sides to its personality that it seems completely lost. It is unaware, or only too aware, of itself.

 

Join us next week for our next prompt…

 

Guest Editor Deborah Karl-Brandt lives in Bonn, Germany, with her husband, two rabbits and numerous books. After her PhD studies in Scandinavian languages and literatures, she now works as a freelance author and poet. One of her poems won 2nd place in the 2021 Pula Film Festival Haiku Contest. Her poems have most recently appeared in Prune Juice, Kingfisher, First Frost, Frogpond, Failed Haiku and Tsuridoro. If she is not outside for a long stroll or to do some birdwatching, she is an avid reader who is currently exploring Chinese Xianxia Webnovels.

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Managing Editor Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada, and her debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019). Find her at: kjmunro1560.wordpress.com.

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.

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Photo Credits:

Banner photo credit: Andreas Brandt

Haiku Dialogue offers a triweekly prompt for practicing your haiku. Posts appear each Wednesday with a prompt or a selection of poems from a previous week.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Nice selections. Congratulations for all.

    bonsai jack tree in living room
    glass window showing
    jack fruits in garden

  2. Nice selection and comments.
    Kind of disturbing: „…Eve, the Christian female part of the first human couple“ – is it accurate as a chronology and correct to Judaism, or even to Islam?

    1. Dear Ivan,
      the three monotheistic religions are so closely linked that the story of a divine couple (Adam and Eve) occurs in all three religious traditions. In Islam, Eve has a different name, which is not mentioned in the Koran. It is somehow disturbing that these religions, which are so close to each other, keep fighting against each other.
      Have a nice evening!
      Deborah

      1. Exactly. In this case, “Christian” is a redundant adjective.

        Best wishes,
        Ivan

  3. my beloved’s ashes
    at the tree’s root
    her monument
    .
    Linus Blessing
    Switzerland

    I enjoy the way L2 acts as a lovely pivot;
    my beloved’s ashes at the tree’s root
    her monument

    or

    my beloved’s ashes
    at the tree’s root her monument

    And the natural method is increasingly popular—sensitive to all—the world, humanity, and a loved one

    1. Dear John,

      thank you for your comment and for sharing your thoughts. Thank you for specifically pointing out the pivot line and how it changes the meaning of the poem.
      Have a nice evening!

      Deborah

  4. July the 3rd 2024

    Thank you dear friend Deborah and thanks Haiku Foundation for bestowing such happy a moment on me .
    All the time people are excited to buy a piece of land or a surreal house on moon but I’m never provoked .
    I love my green Earth 🌎
    My family and friends.
    Like to share everything with them with.
    much love .
    My inner feelings erupted in my poem 💜😊🎉🎈

    1. Dear Bidyut,
      and so it make an authentic poem. :-) Thank you for sharing your thoughts and joy!
      Have a nice evening!
      Deborah

  5. Many thanks Deborah for selecting my haiku for commentary this week. Yes, all you have selected are insightful and I congratulate all those poets. The theme Magnificent Trees is a great choice and the value of trees is felt more and more with the climate change. I liked Corine’s fig tree, Susan’s bonsai, Roberta’s pine cones, and Linu’s poignant haiku. Nalini’s haiku taught me a new word, komorebi. Sri Maha Bodhi is believed be a sapling from the Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment and is venerated by Buddhists and respected by non-Buddhists as well. Yes, as you say, all trees should be valued as the survival of all beings depends on trees.

  6. Deborah Karl-Brandt, I’m glad my haiku resonated with you. Thanks for considering it worthy of commentary. The fig tree in my driveway actually shows this behaviour. With less and less rain during the wintertime and extreme heat during summertime I can see trees struggling. The strongest of them all seem to be the carob trees.

    1. Dear Corine,

      thank you for telling the story behind your poem. I live near a forest and in the last five years three of them have been far too dry. The trees have suffered a lot. First the branches in the crowns of the trees died and we had a lot of dead trees. The pines were the worst. It is so worrying to see this.
      Have a nice evening!

      Deborah

  7. Thankyou for sharing my haiku. I have grown up with trees surrounding our home, and this relationship, a kinship I suppose influenced this poem. I feel connection and love for the trees – ash and sycamore at the bottom of the garden. I can’t imagine my life without trees in it.

    I was also being playful in the way I chose to write this.

    1. Dear Melissa,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Writing in a playful mood is so helpful and an enriching experience. Some of the results will be unexpected, but beautiful nonetheless. So keep going!
      Have a lovely weekend!
      Deborah

  8. Heartfelt thanks to you Deborah for picking my ku for haiku commentary It’s truly an honor to have my work recognized in such a meaningful way. Though over the moon , I m reeling around Susan’s unwanted branch . congratulations to all the amazing fellow poets

      1. Dear Eavonka,
        I also had to google the word first and am glad to have learned a new exquisite word.
        Have a nice evening!
        Deborah

    1. Dear Nalini,

      thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad you enjoyed this collection.
      Have a nice weekend!
      Deborah

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