The Heron's Nest

Volume XXI, Number 2: June 2019

Editors' Choices

water striders
the memories I wanted
for my child

Dan Schwerin
Greendale, Wisconsin

a little girl practicing
her princess wave

Julia Cousineau
DuPont, Washington

quiet dawn...
a muezzin tiptoes
up the minaret

Mohammad Azim Khan
Peshawar, Pakistan

The Heron's Nest Award

water striders
the memories I wanted
for my child

Dan Schwerin

This poem affects me emotionally and jogs my own memories of childhood. I am also drawn to memories of raising my child. Two childhoods. Knowing that the peace of observing and exploring the wonders of nature is important to transmit to future generations.

I posit that it is between the two parts of Dan's poem that a haiku is found. The interaction and resonance is there as the result of the haiku poetic form, the juxtaposition of the parts.

The insect itself is fascinating. It can entrance a child as it floats and "skates" across the calm water. It did so for my own daughter. It causes an adult to wonder too...maybe to learn the scientific explanation that this six-legged creature has evolved with unseen, microscopic hairs on its feet which allow it to live and move on the surface tension of water through displacement.

Species of water striders, as they are commonly known, live in most of the non-polar world. They survive icy and snowy winters, as do many insects, and tropical heat as well. The most usual North American species are very small at less than an inch long. Some have wings and all eat insects such as gnats and small flies that land on top of the water. They are also known to eat the emerging larvae of mosquitoes as they metamorphose on the surface. Hooray! Like the non-insect spiders on a web, the striders sense vibration and rush in for a quick meal across the water's surface. Other vibrations can warn of threat, and some invite mating behavior. I have observed water striders all my life in the calm waters of lake, stream, and swamp. In moving water they are found in the lee of rocks or logs. I've watched year-old sunfish look up and start to move at a water strider and give up the idea of rising to strike. Such a strider may seem just too fast and random in its movements. I've not seen it, but wonder if in the shallows very swift trout might succeed. These insects have eyes that can see both up and down. Some birds and flying insects such as dragonflies can catch and eat them.

Overall, they seem rather languid and amusing in their occasional and unpredictable movements. A child and a child's parents will stare, perhaps to enjoy. This haiku poet understands this and shows it quite masterfully. With his wording I see his offspring as already grown. Wistfully perhaps, he wishes assurance that his child also has these memories, the wonderment.

Hopes and dreams.

Paul MacNeil
June 2019


The Heron's Nest XXI.2 (6-19)

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