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
prayer call— the cry of a lost calf at twilight — Sanjuktaa Asopa, The Daily Haiku (2013)
Lakshmi Iyer zooms in on the images:
This minimalist poem has absolute sincerity in the phrasing of the image that is universally bound to the creation at large.
Line one emphasizes the significance of prayers. Here, “prayer call” draws our attention to the muezzin’s call that is usually heard at twilight. What a beautiful juxtaposition between two images, or maybe I should call it “zooming in.” It is beautifully embedded with lines two and three, “the cry of a lost calf/ at twilight.”
Twilight is that hour when most of us return home. Even the cattle find their way back home without the cowherd; their biological clock makes them do so. In that moment, a calf suddenly finds herself lost. And her only way to make herself known is “her cry.” Is that to the Lord or to the world? Both ways, she speaks her voice through the prayer call!
We cannot blame children for that which they are not much used to. We can always take that extra care, caution them, and advise. Cows do that perfectly well. Sometimes, the crowd of the herd diverts their attention, but their strength is remarkable. After all, they have their own sense that allows them to understand nature around them.
The poet has magically woven her ‘ku with sensory and spiritual elements.
As this week’s winner, Lakshmi 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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Zen garden the monk dips his toe into himself — Joe Sebastian, The Mainichi (2021)