a deceased friend
taps me on the shoulder —
plum blossoms falling
Some haiku please us from the first reading. Some beckon us to move beyond limits we’ve assigned to what constitutes
“proper” English-language haiku. Some explode into our consciousness with all the stunning beauty of the first blooms of spring.
And some do all these things and more. Chen-ou Liu’s is one of those.
At first reading, I loved it. Then I questioned my response, asking, “Doesn’t this break a whole bunch of Haiku Rules?
Isn’t this metaphor? Is it gendai? Am I supposed to like this as much as I do?” It seemed daringly outside my comfort zone.
Then I simply let it take me into a world that was at once surreal — and so real.
Whether a moment such as this triggers the memory of a loved one (a metaphorical tap) — or, for just a split second, we forget
and turn, expecting to see them there — I trust many of us have experienced this. It is a moment as filled with poignancy as this
poem. We are literally touched at the deepest level — with inexpressible longing — and with a jolt of such joy
mixed into our sorrow we can only feel blessed.