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
yellow ginkgo leaves shedding our inhibitions on the Zoom meeting — Sari Grandstaff, The Haiku Foundation's Haiku Dialogue (November 2020)
Carole Harrison gleans from an ancient one:
Ginkgo, a living fossil, as many of us feel as we delve into the world of Zoom and, dare I say it, gloom? The more I read about ginkgo biloba, the more this haiku opens up, revealing its possibilities. I see beauty in the color and shapes of the leaves; I see interesting links between shedding leaves and shedding inhibitions.
Maybe gingko can help us become flamboyant Zoom boomers. Its possible properties are so amazingly all encompassing, I wonder why we aren’t all eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, antioxidants to slow aging and reduce inflammation, so we have lots of energy to circulate in the Zoom world and remember everyone’s names, better still, where we left the computer.
Gingko may make ears and eyes better and bigger, “All the better to hear and see you with, my dear.” We could become super-heroes, telepathically communicating with anyone, anywhere. But I’m getting carried away. . .
This oldest genus of tree on earth could teach us much. We may not have seen the rise and fall of dinosaurs and many climate changes. It has.
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă contemplates shifts in paradigms:
Ginkgo trees are really stunning in fall. Their leaves turn a brilliant yellow that is particularly striking, especially at sunrise and sunset. Then, the leaves drop quickly — sometimes in a single day — and the show is over.
Times are turbulent, people are panicking. The pandemic has changed all sorts of paradigms. It’s autumn again, one like no other, not for nature, but for us. Nature continues to take care of her affairs without showing that she is suffering. The trees discard their clothes, but this time we humans witness a performance that seems to convey how fragile life is, the world we live in.
The pandemic brought quarantine, social distancing, all sorts of restrictions that simply alienated us, turning man into a homo solitarius, full of frustrations, as is the case for the people in the poem. Deprived of true freedom, unable to socialize as before, those in front of the monitor, maybe two lovers, discover that now they have the opportunity to shed their inhibitions, as if they want to prove that they are still alive, that they can react somehow. In fact, everything shows that the vacuum, the falsity, and the illusion of truth are slowly being installed in the souls.
The yellow of the ginkgo leaves gives the poem a special aura, and I think it refers somehow to the pallor of the faces that spend too much time in front of computers and thus lose their energy.
At the phonetic level, the consonant “l” in the first part subliminally suggests the falling of the leaves, and in the second part certain consonants seem to emphasize the stridency of the artificial atmosphere
Peggy Bilbro zooms in on connections:
The ginkgo leaf, for me, is the most feminine summer leaf and the showiest of fall leaves! The wide, usually two-lobed leaf spreads out like a lady’s skirt held wide as she twirls and swirls. Its delicate yellow-green summer color sings of luminous sunshine that in the fall turns a brilliant yellow, flashing in the sunshine and clinging to the tree in a long-lived, brilliant display of color. The bi-lobed leaf leads us to see the yin and yang of life itself, and perhaps of ourselves, which is where Sari’s haiku comes into play. Perhaps the more staid side of our Zoom personality has finally had enough of the tiny boxed faces and the serious topics of discussion, and is ready to give way to our less inhibited side. Even as the ginkgo leaf waves first one side then the other to the sunlight, we humans do the same.
The fact that the ginkgo leaves are yellow says that we are in the fall of the year before the cold arrives, as the leaves time to show. Likewise, our own time becomes limited, and we finally feel free to shed our inhibitions and show our true colors. Is it easier to let loose when isolated in our Zoom boxes, or is it just that we’ve had enough of our own little box and are ready to break out and show our true selves to all the other little boxed faces? Either way, our connection to the brilliant fall yellows and golds of the ginkgo leaves in Sari’s haiku takes us out of a mere Zoom meeting to a more intimate meeting of souls before winter arrives and it is too late to show our true colors. Well done Sari!
As this week’s winner, Peggy 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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new inmate on the inside of her wrists butterfly tattoos — Mark Miller, tinywords, issue 20.2 (2020)