For the last three weeks, Teaching Authors has celebrated the season of gratitude by writing Thanks-Giving Thank U Haiku. And with each offering, Carmela, Esther, April, Mary Ann, and JoAnn offer hauntingly beautiful poetry that, as JoAnn stated so eloquently, asks us to add our light to the sum of light.
Now it’s my turn.
Alas, I am not a poet. After hours of trying to compose a Thank U Haiku, I concede that I cannot do it. It’s worrisome.
There are many things that I cannot do, of course.
I cannot drive a truck. I’m not talking about the little SUVs, complete with manual five-speed stick shift. I’m talking about those eighteen-wheeler, semi-trailer big rigs. Complete with forward engine, steering axle, two drive axles. Ten forward drive gears and two reverse gears. And a bed. Vroom, vroom! Wouldn’t it be fun to drive across country, to see this vast and changing landscape? To see those very steps where Martin Luther King said he had a dream? Where on Christmas Day George Washington crossed the river for his own country’s honor? Where Abraham Lincoln spoke about a new birth of freedom? What about to walk the ruins of the Alamo or march across the fields of Gettysburg? Or the hills of San Francisco, where Harvey Milk imagined a righteous world?
Well, true enough I have seen many places. And you don’t really need a truck. As a working writer, I visit the landscape where my characters once walked. I do that to make them more alive. But it’s more than that, too. It’s why I write historical fiction. History is important. As Penelope J. Corfield said, “All people and peoples are living histories,” and studying those stories that link “past and present is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the condition of being human.” That’s true now more than ever, given recent events. Still, wouldn’t it be fun to be a truck driver? Vroom, vroom!
There are many things I cannot be, of course.
I cannot be a worm. How important are worms! Big worms! Small worms! Rain worms! Dew worms! And everyone’s favorite, angleworms! They burrow beneath our feet, sight unseen, churning the inorganic into the organic. Even their poop – I mean, worm casts – are invaluable in enriching soils. Which grows gardens. Which feeds the world.
I am not near as important as a worm. Still, I am a writer, and if I do my job as well as a worm does his, perhaps I might enrich at least one mind.
Speaking of important, I suppose I cannot be a rose either. Even the most imperfect rose is perfect compared to other flowers. Or, so a rose thinks. They are an old, old flower. Maybe that’s why they feel so entitled. Sacred to their Goddess Venus, Romans covered their sofas with roses. Cleopatra covered her floor with roses whenever Marc Antony was about to visit. Roses even have their own language: red rose for love, yellow rose for joy, purple rose for royalty, and white rose for innocence and peace. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” wrote William Shakespeare. In a story that has lasted hundreds of years.
I have wild roses growing like brambles in my back yard. They certainly share the same hoity toity attitude as their hybrid cousins, despite having the nastiest thorns around. Still, bees love them. And in their thorny tangle hide rabbits and wild turkeys with their fledglings. And skunks. There’s nothing sweet smelling about them.
All the same, I prefer the dandelions that blanket my acres every spring. When they bloom, they look like a thousand bright yellow suns, shooing away the last memory of winter. When the blooms turn into puff balls, they look like a thousand moons. And when the puff balls explode, dispersing their seeds, they look like a thousand shooting stars. My galaxy is growing!
Of course, the result of all those shooting stars is a yard full of weeds. But I like weeds. “And, constant stars, in them I read such art as truth and beauty shall together thrive,” as Shakespeare also wrote.
But the question remains, how can I write a haiku? I'll try once more...
My Broken Haiku
Discover your world
Honor what lies beneath
Expand your galaxy
Thank U for being a part of my universe.
(PS: All photos courtesy of morguefile.com)