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Viral 4.4

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4.4

                                                          end of summer
                                                          the rust on my scissors
                                                          smells of marigolds

                                                                                  — Margaret Chula

Penny Harter’s write-up below on Margaret Chula’s haiku (above) is extracted from a review she wrote for Chula’s collection, The Smell of Rust, in Kyoto Review. Harter’s commentary on Chula’s haiku, though short, gets to the heart of things: finding the metaphor and linking the rust to our own “livingdying.” It was orignially my intent to add my own thoughts directly to Harter’s words. I’ve decided to keep them separate, however, in hopes of letting Harter’s words stand and shine alone.

So, a few things that that draw me into Chula’s haiku.

The first is the way colors are conjured without being entirely present. The marigolds blossom in the mind, for me, simply through the mentioning of their scent: life and color clinging, yet blooming, out of the rust, into another living thing. An interesting weave of life, death, and dying. In effect, a kind of world of experience, habit, tradition, and duty are created.

I like the decision to use “my” instead of “the”: “my scissors”. Not “the scissors.”

I feel that’s important because, as a reader, it makes me care more. It creates a sharper world for me and makes the overall effect richer. The idea that the scissors are, in a sense, the poet becomes more deeply felt.

And so the haiku becomes a creation where the past, present, and the future are interwoven. The scents are alive and lingering, a year is recalled, while at the same time the reader is left with a world to linger on and ponder. What will come and how will one handle it? Major themes are aging, and memory, but also the sense of being alive and, always, moving on with it all.

What do readers think of this haiku and what can you add to Penny Harter’s commentary and thoughts? What other angles do you see?

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Oxidation
By Penny Harter

                                                        end of summer 
                                                        the rust on my scissors 
                                                        smells of marigolds

                                                                                              — Margaret Chula

This poem appeals to several senses: visual, tactile, and olfactory. From shades of brown in the rough texture of oxidating metal, to a sharp and bitter odor. Rust does smell—of time, of oxidation, and, ultimately of transformation. Chula’s image of the sharp odor of marigolds lingering on rusting scissor blades moves beyond the expected. We are all rusting as we move through the seasons of our lives—free radicals oxidating our cells, especially as summer ends and we move into the deeper seasons of autumn and winter. Yet we take what we can from summer into the coming cold.

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Virals is a section in which one person choses a haiku by another person and comments on that haiku. Then the author of that haiku is invited to select a haiku by someone else and comment on that poem, and so on. For an introduction to this section, see Virals.

Viral 4.1 (Metz ➾ Mountain)
Viral 4.2 (Mountain ➾ Windsor)
Viral 4.3 (Windsor ➾ Harter)
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This Post Has One Comment

  1. I was drawn to the fact that the scissors are rusty. Why? Were they left out in the rain? Put away wet and forgotten? Were the marigolds ones that the poet cut some time earlier in the summer? Rust could be past memories that are brought to the present with the fragrance of earlier marigolds. Memories are events of the past, yet they are very much the present when we remember them.

    Adelaide

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