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
in the tree’s scar a bud — Adjei Agyei-Baah, Honorable Mention, THF's Monthly Kukai (April 2020)
Radhamani Sarma weaves narratives around the tree:
Delighted to read and comment upon this monoku, a dexterous write by Adjei Agyei-Baah, an academician of wonderful repute, widely known among haiku and senryu circles. The potential theme veers ’round a tree in general, making us pry deep into its natural structure, comprising bark, age and decay. As we are well aware, the universally accepted phenomenon of God’s bounty consists of land and water, sun, moon and sky. Forests and other greenery are all affected by fluctuations like drought and deluge, withering and scarring.
“in the tree’s scar a bud” poses a question at the outset: Where is the scar and where does it come from? For humans, perhaps it would be a mole or a birthmark; for this mute tree, why “a scar”? A close observation of the brown skin of trees will expose bark, layers, and lines, wet, oozing marks, and in some trees, even sticky gums.
It is possible that among trees, scars can be caused by lightning bolts, or that during attempts at deforestation by the cruelest hands using an axe, deep oozing wounds manifest. Obviously, such severe scars may render no chance of springing buds or sprouts.
Here, the poet weaves a description by incorporating a contrasting image – “a bud,” a sprout, a sudden shoot or dancing flower – as if somewhere in man’s hard heart “the milk of humankind prevails.“ Another point worthy of note is that here in India, women take vows or offer prayers to fulfill some of their unfulfilled desires: They tie sacred threads around the trees, a contrasting image hiding scars. Yet trees are such a solid strength of support despite scars!
Metaphorically, one can imagine from the poet’s “in the tree’s scar a bud” a sort of “artificial fertilization,” as might be the case with a formerly sterile woman and her unbound happiness upon seeing her newborn baby.
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă discerns a lesson in perseverance:
This one-line ‘ku illustrates very well the idea of hope: Where the buds sprout, it is clear that we can talk about the future, of confidence in what will follow.
Although the tree has a scar, it is not known why (maybe because of a storm or a war). The tree does not complain, does not give up. On the contrary, without using a special program or magic formula, it forgets the wound and simply resets itself and shoots up again as if nothing had happened.
The poem also gives us humans an example of life, a lesson in survival in harsh conditions such as the current pandemic that has put humanity to the test. In other words, there is no point in exhausting ourselves by wailing; rather we should look for solutions to help us return to normalcy. Even if the intensity, the atmosphere, the background have changed, the show must go on because life is the most beautiful present; what we have been given.
As this week’s winner, Cezar-Florin 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!
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.
spring mist – a mallard paddles through our stillborn's ashes – H. Gene Murtha, The Heron's Nest, Vol. IV Issue 11 (2002)