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Valentine Awards 2000

The Heron's Nest
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Volume II, Number 4: April, 2000.
Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Editor's Choices • Haiku: 1, 2, 3, 4 • Index of Poets

Heron's Nest Award

      someone whistling
           in the dark–
      hazy moon
                                           Naomi Brown

The mirror is always before us. At the moment Naomi Brown wrote this haiku, at this moment of my writing commentary, and at the moment you read it, the mirror takes the form of words, both the poet's and my own. What do these words express? “Someone whistling in the dark–[the] hazy moon.”

The moon reflects light from an invisible sun. Whistling reflects the mood of a person obsured by darkness. Not only is light from the sun reflected by the moon, it is diffused by haziness in the atmosphere. How is the whistling modified? How do you imagine the whistling to sound? Could it be that, as the moon is indistinct, so too is the whistled tune? Is it whimsical? Off-key? Perhaps the whistler is a bit tipsy. Or is the tune well rendered, loud and clear in contrast to the hazy moon? What each of us makes of a stranger's whistling speaks of our own human conditions, and our own imaginative capacities.

In contrast to the whistling (which can be heard), is the source of the whistling: a person obscured by darkness. By means of a dash these two contrasting images unite to create a mood which is then represented visually by a third image: the hazy moon. This alchemy of word-images creates a mysterious encounter with the unknown.

Physically, here are just seven English words divided into eleven syllables; three images, one in each of three horizontal lines. The dash at the end of the second line separates the first two images from the last . . . and connects them.

Cerebrally, we have a poet's effort to express her experience in words. The result induces our interpretation of the words into mental images: the sound of whistling, the darkness that conceals the whistler, the vision of a hazy moon.

Emotionally, this haiku is a powerful evocation of a mood. The poet doesn't make the common error of telling us how she feels; she allows us complete freedom to respond in our own individual ways.

Spiritually, enlightenment is incomprehensible, as sunlight is too bright to gaze upon. It must be intuited, as sunlight must be seen indirectly, reflected by things . . . like the moon. Who can look at the sun? Who can trace whistling (or any other manifested thing) back to its source? We are whistlers in the dark, expressing things we don't fully understand. We gaze at the moon, and even then it isn't always clear.

Thank you Naomi for presenting us with such a well polished mirror.
  Christopher Herold
April, 2000