The Heron's Nest

Volume XVIII, Number 1: March 2016

Editors' Choices

roasting sun
the egret's measured steps
in buffalo shadow

Adjei Agyei-Baah
Kumasi, Ghana

winter rain
a tropical scent
from the dish soap

Connie Donleycott
Bremerton, Washington

November wind
the hollow places
that form a song

Peter Newton
Winchendon, Massachusetts

The Heron's Nest Award

roasting sun
the egret's measured steps
in buffalo shadow

Adjei Agyei-Baah

Unbearable heat shimmers from this poem, pulling in readers who otherwise could experience a scene like this only through nature films. But what is exotic for many is likely as familiar to Adjei Agyei-Baah in Ghana as bald eagles are to me in Alaska.

With very effective shifts in rhythm that provide a visceral parallel to the "egret's measured steps"—and with "s" sounds in each line, "sh" sounds in "measured" and "shadow," and the subtle rhyme of "buffalo" and "shadow,"—there is much to enjoy here. The symbiotic relationship between the spindly egret and the immense buffalo becomes a bit one-sided as the egret very carefully takes advantage of what little shade can be found. Since the buffalo is one of the strongest and most powerful animals in Africa, this delicately implied danger adds another highly effective layer of intrigue.

The interconnectedness captured here seems symbolic of the way haiku has connected poets worldwide.* Poets who live close to the equator have a unique challenge when using kigo since their seasons are marked by different and more subtle indicators than in regions far to the north or south. In his indispensable Haiku World** Bill Higginson [1938 - 2008] suggested that "If a sufficient number of haikai poets becomes active in the tropics, perhaps they will organize a saijiki according to their seasonal consciousness." In the meantime, we'll simply savor the pleasure of reading and sharing haiku such as this one.

Billie Wilson
March 2016

*Poets from almost 60 countries have been represented in The Heron's Nest since its first issue.

** William J. Higginson, Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1996)


The Heron's Nest XVIII.1 (3-16)

Next Page