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
fallen nest bumblebees reframe the question — Cherie Hunter Day, is/let (2020)
John Levy considers a variety of possibilities:
What is the question? Could it involve the desire to approach the nest, to check for eggs and/or to appreciate how the nest is made? If so, it’s risky because female bumblebees not only can sting, but a single one can sting several times. Could the question be, “Why are the bees attracted to the nest?”
What was the original question? Did it exist before the nest fell? Or before the bumblebees appeared?
It seems the nest has fallen near or among flowers and that getting to the nest is risky.
The scene is vivid: Bumblebees flying and landing, their noise, flowers, the nest on the ground, and many colors in daylight. One can also imagine the fragrance of flowers.
The word “reframe” is wonderful here. A nest is a frame. A fallen nest is reframed by the impact of the fall. A question can be framed and reframed, and the verb “reframe” provides a visual image.
One can consider all the work it took for the birds to build the nest and how it has fallen. Whether or not there were eggs in it, it’s a loss for the birds. It’s possible it could be an abandoned nest, having served its purpose, and if so then there’s less loss. We may consider all the options.
This could be a spring scene, or one in summer or fall. Depending on the climate, it could even be early winter.
The only article in the poem — “the” — is perfect. No other article is needed and their absence emphasizes the question.
Six words, yet so many moving possibilities!
Radhamani Sarma is struck by the devastation:
Very much delighted to read and comment on this monoku by Cherie Hunter Day. Interestingly, the image captures and focuses our immediate attention on bumblebees. A very tricky and sad situation has been placed before us, the helpless onlookers. Whether we imagine human beings or birds, bees or bumblebees, they have been thrown out of shelters, homes, caves, or nests, essentially losing their homes. What a sordid spectacle with painful repercussions.
“fallen nest bumblebees” — We have here a pictorial image of debility, destruction, effected either by a powerful wind or a sweeping hand. The fallen nest of bumblebees is the final location of their efficient gathering of honey, stored for lean seasons, for their offspring and sustenance.
If a tenant is asked to vacate his home on the pretext of demolition or renovation, what will be his plight? If a granary is emptied, where do squirrels go? If their nest falls, what will be the predicament of the bumblebees? Can they rebuild their nest? Is there any viable solution to this tragedy?
In the next segment — “bumblebees reframe the question” — one can envision the fallen nest among strewn twigs, the honey spilled and scattered. Where is the asylum for the bumblebees? Can they live in the shapeless nest, thrown asunder and dispersed? Their beautiful home is gone; nearby floral bunches are also destroyed. The question remains: Where can they go? “reframing” their question in the next segment. “reframe” could also imply that the bumblebees will restructure their fallen nests, in essence rebuild it for livelihood, for gathering, Now, one can possibly view the image as an extension into metaphor, when human beings are thrown out of their houses, or their homes are destroyed by natural calamity. They reframe the question: Where can we go? Can we rebuild or relocate, perhaps even restructure?
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!
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ghost cave i brush aside the dharma of a lobster god — Clayton Beach, Haiku Sanctuary (2019)