Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was
a fork in the the road turning into a a clock — Peter Yovu, Sunrise (Red Moon Press, 2010)
Judith Hishikawa discovers her own hidden meaning:
I like the way fork and clock both have an ‘o’ and a ‘k ‘in them, even though only the ending sound is the same. Both the fork in the road and the clock can have a Y configuration in them, visually connecting them as well.
The viewer, reader, is left to decide for themselves what the connection between time and choosing could be. Perhaps the meaning is, don’t linger too long over your choices, be decisive!
Theresa Cancro’s thoughts take many directions:
The form and the reading of Peter Yovu’s haiku leads me from one line to the next like a winding road. The lines enjamb in such a way that they almost curve, like a clock. The repetition of words definitely mirrors the repetitious ticking of a clock. If one is at the fork in a road, there’s often a moment of indecision: Which direction should we follow? That moment of hesitation is a turn in the flow as we choose the way we’ll take.
Perhaps we can view it metaphorically: Here’s a ‘moment’ in life when we have to choose which path we will follow, be it a life milestone like marriage or a new job, which in turn will determine the course of our future. Roads are often circuitous, winding here and there, as are changes in our lives that lead us in different directions.
The thought of directions takes me to the idea of the rising and setting of the sun, also an orb in the sky, not unlike a clock. A fork in the road may suggest various directions, including east and west where the sun rises and sets, a basic way of reckoning time. Why not all four directions? Ancient people used the movement of celestial bodies among all directions to mark the seasons, to help them determine the optimal times to plant and reap crops from one year to the next. I am reminded of standing stone circles, like Stonehenge, found in many parts of the world.
Radhamani Sarma finds expansion in the circular path:
This week’s selection by Peter Yovu seems to be a senryu; I think I am not wrong. It brings out his technical skill in evolving an admirable twist and turn, thereby a challenging task for readers’ imagination.
The very first line “a fork in the…” leading where? The poet deliberately leaves the imaginative aura to our discretion. Converting the term “fork” literally, the meaning derived is a junction, a divide or a branch and related derivatives.
As a result of the bend or divide within the road what happens: the poet establishes a connectivity with the second line, leading on to the third line.The driver of the vehicle as a result of the fork takes or rides via a whole roundabout, hence a clock, a circle. The divide enables a roundabout – a full circle, not necessarily for a vehicle but also for a walker, a pedestrian.
The senryu can be possibly interpreted this way, too: Peter Yovu envisions poetically the fork as an instrument for cutting. So in the first line, “a fork” in the orange or apple or fruit, cutting as an instrument used for cleaving, takes the journey to the fruit and an application of the instrument in a circular way, hence the clock. Two images ‘fork’ and ‘clock’ intertwine both in the journey of a road as well as the fruit.
A very demanding and at the same time expanding of our perspectives.
As this week’s winner, Radhamani gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
Putting Christmas back in its box — Alexis Rotella, Frogpond 42:2 (2019)