Saturday, May 9, 2015

Butterfly Dream: Moss-Covered Rocks Haiku by Irene Golas

English Original

moss-covered rocks ...
mother never talks about
the one that died 

First Place, 2010 Haiku Pen Contest

Irene Golas

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

苔蘚覆蓋的岩石 ...

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

苔藓覆盖的岩石 ...

Bio Sketch

Irene Golas has been published in journals such as Acorn, Eucalypt, Frogpond, Heron’s Nest, Ribbons, and Simply Haiku. Her work has also appeared in Carpe Diem: Canadian Anthology of Haiku; Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka (2010) and other anthologies. She and Ignatius Fay are co-authors of Breccia, a collection of haiku and related forms.


  1. Below is the comment made by the judge, Ferris Gilli, which can be accessed at

    Certain elements must be present if a haiku is to resonate; indeed, resonance itself is the key to a successful haiku. In only eleven words, fifteen syllables, this poem answers the requirements: effective juxtaposition of disparate images; immediacy and credibility; a sense of season and balance of nature and humanity; clarity, focus, and concision; plain language and musicality, and meaning beyond the surface imagery.

    Waiting to be discovered by the reader, unstated feelings layer this piercing haiku. With intuition and skill, the author invites readers in, “hooking” us and evoking emotion by drawing our focus to that which is not spoken. Different readers may find different interpretations. For me, the phrase “moss-covered rocks” suggests summer. The covering of moss denotes the passage of time (indeed, the overall haiku depiction is timeless). The words “never talks about” imply a long-lasting situation. With the third line, I become aware of a tragedy. Yet even as I ponder this event that might have occurred long ago, I remain firmly in the present with the author, whose depth of current emotion can be inferred from what lies beneath the surface of this absolute observation: “mother never talks about / the one that died.”

    It is easy to imagine that “the one that died” was a sibling, perhaps an infant, whose death and the circumstances surrounding it were so devastating for the mother that even now she cannot speak of the lost child. Perhaps for the poet, the moss-covered rocks are a trigger, stirring memories of the event or sharpening the need to “get it out in the open” with the mother. The intriguing juxtaposition of images suggests that the poet’s mood is one of resigned wistfulness, while the last two lines create an aura of mystery. I sense that the writer would gain comfort from talking about “the one that died,” that the poet’s own feeling of loss is nurtured by the mother’s silence.

    In order for a haiku to reach its potential, poet and reader become partners. A haiku is like a bell that may sound a subtly different tone for each person who taps it. The poet produces the “bell,” and the reader must tap it in order to experience its resonance. Using not a single unessential word, the poet wisely leaves room for exploration in this significant and captivating haiku. I am grateful for the opportunity to explore the rich depths of “moss-covered rocks.”

  2. This haiku is tightly structured with an emotional undercurrent as "inferred from what lies beneath the surface of this absolute observation: mother never talks about / the one that died.” And on a second reading, the evocative opening line carries symbolic significance.