Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Room of My Own: Colors of Loneliness Haiku Sequence

a corridor that runs
off into infinity
Mom! I'm coming home

Moon Festival ...
the attic and I share
a day of rest

running away
from myself and my shadow
the smell of formalin

grief knocks
the wind out of me
drifting snowflakes

New Year's dinner for one
I pick up the chopsticks
and yet … and yet …


1 The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival in the West, is the second most important festival celebrated by the Chinese people, and it is held on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar, during a full moon.

2 "formalin: a clear solution of formaldehyde in water. A 37% solution is used for fixing and preserving biologic specimens for pathologic and histologic examination."

1 comment:

  1. The sociocultural context for the second haiku:

    Below is excerpted from Robert D. Wilson's essay, titled "An Evaluation and Introspective Look at the Haiku of Chen-ou Liu, " which was first Simply Haiku, Vol. 8. No. 2, Autumn 2010

    As a poet, Li Po is one of the most loved Chinese poets and his poems are widely taught in schools, memorized by children, and constantly recited on all sorts of occasions. The first poem I ever memorized was his “Thoughts in Night Quiet,” the best known of all Chinese poems, especially among Chinese living overseas:

    Seeing moonlight here at my bed,
    and thinking it's frost on the ground,

    I look up, gaze at the mountain moon,
    then back, dreaming of my old home.

    -- translated by David Hinton

    When I was six, my father recited this poem to me with watery eyes. At that time, he hadn’t seen his family for two decades since he came to Taiwan in 1949, with the defeated Chinese Nationalist Army. I memorized the poem and didn’t fully reflect upon its meaning in my heart and mind. Little was understood about the suffering endured by my father and his generation due to the Chinese Civil War. It was not until the seventh year since I emigrated to Canada that I’d experienced this pang of nostalgic longing explored in Li’s poem through the moon imagery – a symbol of distance and family reunion – portrayed in simple and evocative language. Since then, every time when I thought of my parents, my family, and my hometown, I recited “Thoughts in Night Quiet,” which is not only Li’s poem but also mine.