I am not
as I walk in & out
Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, 2009
A. A. Marcoff
Structurally speaking, Marcoff's minimalist (15-syllable/word) tanka varies slightly from the classic short-long-short-long-long syllabic structure, and it is divided into two parts: one theme statement about ever-shifting subjectivities and one visually evocative and symbolically rich image of the speaker walking in and out of mist.
Thematically speaking, the opening theme statement is fully grounded in the closing image. This short tanka works effectively on at least two levels, literal and metaphoric, invoking profound existential angst ("I am/I am not/I am") through this theologically/philosophically laden metaphor -- life as a mist, which reminds me of the following passage from James 4:14, New Testament (NIV):
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.