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The Heron’s Nest

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Volume XV, Number 4: December 2013.

Haiku Pages:  1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  Archives

Editors' Choices

the age of the river a ripple in stone

Peter Newton
Winchendon, Massachusetts
. . .

all that pain
in a country song
the ploughman’s blade

Ron C. Moss
Leslie Vale, Tasmania, Australia
. . .

a distant cloud
    dragging rain—
         the swish of horse tails

Chad Lee Robinson
Pierre, South Dakota

The Heron’s Nest Award

the age of the river a ripple in stone

Peter Newton
Winchendon, Massachusetts

. . .

     Everything, without exception, is in motion. The only thing that makes it seem otherwise is the fact that the rate of motion varies so noticeably between different objects. And the interaction between objects moving at differing speeds is a source of great beauty – clouds and the moon, a peregrine falcon and a mouse, ants and a peony bud, a snail and Mt. Fuji. The interaction of water and stone is an especially resonant example. It provides us with white water rapids, towering waterfalls, tide pools, mud flats, and many other universally recognizable effects.

     I have a special fondness for poems that present an image of approximate measurement – the age of the river as measured in stone or compared to the age of stone. Nature provides us with many examples: the annual growth rings of trees, core samples of glacial ice. One doesn’t always think of a river as having a life span, it moves and changes so rapidly and continuously while maintaining much the same course during our lifetimes. But, of course, the river itself came into being at some point and is eventually to be overwhelmed and effaced by other changes in the landscape. This doesn’t only happen on Mars.

     The single line format seems especially apt in this poem. We are all aware of how water seeks the lowest point and pools there to form a more or less flat surface. Perhaps we are less aware that this phenomenon is more generally the case. That ripple in stone will eventually be calmed, even if its “lifetime” far outstrips that of a river. And where are we in this picture?

     The poem seems perfect in its rhythm. It consists of an opening iamb, followed by three anapest feet. Once it gets going, with a crest at every third syllable, the poem itself “ripples” and carries the reader along. What we have here is a finely crafted timepiece, accurate in the sense of “truthfulness.”

John Stevenson,
Managing Editor
December 2013