Meredith Ackroyd is the recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2021 for her poem
they were my daughters . . .
— (Frogpond 44:3)
Commentary from the Panel:
“The social value of the adoption of the child has been poetically manifested in the present haiku. There is an emotional juxtaposition between ‘wildflowers’ and ‘adopted daughters’. It has an aesthetic message of rendering due diligence to wildflowers. The word ‘wildflowers’ has been subtly manifested in an allegorical sense for the readers to breathe in the placid rhythm of the haiku. The use of ellipses (kireji) in line 2 marks an internal division and offers a space for the readers to visualize the possible socio-political scenario. It could be that the children were missed in a war, migrants, or displaced due to various reasons.
With mere six words, the poet succinctly expresses the plight of orphans and how adoption could transfer them to a better way of living. The haiku has an immense depth (yūgen) with zen-feeling. She possesses a noble heart to embrace them as her real daughters. It reminds us of the golden lines by the American novelist, Tama Janowitz, on her adopted daughter: “My kid knows I’m her real mother. Not biological, but real. It doesn’t get any realer than this.” Let us recall the couplet of the poem “The Gift of Life” by an unknown author on adoption, “No, I didn’t give you / The gift of life, / Life gave me the gift of you.” The theme of the haiku is very sensitive and worth fathoming by the social scientists and the general public at large.
There is a sense of humane feeling in the haiku and it unveils dreams of love, affection, and compassion. A feeling of resonance echoes with ‘s’ sounds (alliteration) in the haiku. Assimilating the substance of the poem, I wish to conclude with the excerpt of the beautiful verse Adoption by Teri Harrison:
Longing for a child to love,
I’d wish upon the stars above.
In my heart I always knew,
A part of me was meant for you.
I think how happy we will be,
Once I adopt you, and you adopt me.”
See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.