Saturday, June 29, 2013

Butterfly Dream: Ants Haiku by Fay Aoyagi

English Original

ants out of a hole --
when did I stop playing
the red toy piano?

Beyond the Reach of My Chopsticks

Fay Aoyagi

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

螞蟻出洞 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

蚂蚁出洞 --

Bio Sketch

Fay Aoyagi (青柳飛)was born in Tokyo and immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. She is currently a member of Haiku Society of America and Haiku Poets of Northern California. She serves as an associate editor of The Heron's Nest.  She also writes in Japanese and belongs to two Japanese haiku groups; Ten'I (天為) and "Aki"(秋), and she is a member of Haijin Kyokai (俳人協会).


  1. There is a spring kigo here in ants and this may have some bearing on the tiny, unturned sound of a toy piano. On the other hand, there is the line of red ants and the red piano with its line of keys that connects the images to form a whole. Whatever it is, it is the smallness and the wonder of tininess of ants and children and toys that combine to set the poem apart and make of it a petite object of desire.

    -- excerpted from Jouissance: The Poetic Achievement of Fay Aoyagi by Jack Galmitz, which can be accessed at

    The haiku, however, pops unpredictably, nonlinearly, from an external view of ants to an inward, childhood memory, presenting for our contemplation an emotionally charged artifact of half-remembered childhood. We sense that, for Aoyagi, the writing of the haiku has been an unlocking of remembrance. Ants emerge one by one from their hole, hinting at an inner process of memories rising from the subconscious mind, suddenly unearthing the red toy piano.

    -- Something with Wings: Fay Aoyagi's Haiku of Inner Landscape by David G. Lanoue, which can be accessed at

  2. I read Fay's haiku mainly as a poem about the identification process: while identifying with diligent ants that are ready for work, the speaker is reminded of playing the red piano in the joyful childhood years. The use of "red" adds emotional weight to the poem.

    It's a well-crafted haiku that opens up an interpretative space for the reader's imagination and reflection.