bird house empty of seed
even the jays
look for Bernard
It is most unusual to use a proper name in a haiku. Since a majority of
readers would be unlikely to know who the person is, there would seem to be
an unbridgeable gap between the poet and the reader, which of course,
runs contrary to haiku sensibility. Yet this poem is proof that a proper
noun can be effective when obviously symbolic of a close personal relationship.
That Francine refers to Bernard by name makes this poem far more poignant
than if she were to have written impersonally of “him.”
“Even the jays,” (brash and careless as they are)
sense that something has
changed. Where there’s usually food to be found, there’s
none. But this haiku
isn't about birds. It isn’t about Bernard either, nor is it
Francine, who is now facing a void in her life. Even the emptiness
(the emotional crux of this poem) tells but half the story. By themselves,
each of these elements say little of what the poet wishes to express.
putting them together, however, Francine Porad has painted a vivid
indisputable truth: the only constant is change and to survive we
The emptiness that the jays discover is only that in a feeding
poet describes emptiness felt as a result of profound loss. Even
are readers who don’t know anything of Francine Porad, of
her life and her
works, they cannot help but glean that Bernard is someone important
and that he is gone. Those who do know Francine are aware that Bernard
her husband and that he recently passed away.
To one degree or another relationships involve dependencies and
Some are so subtle that they aren’t noticed until one partner
is no longer
physically present. The recognition of Bernard's absence accentuates
that he continues to exist in Francine's life. They were married
for over 50
years. Memories of him are sure to arise again and again, often
unexpectedly, and sometimes in odd places.
Along with “empty,” “even,” and “Bernard,”
the word “seed” is important to
this haiku. Through it, Bernard is seen to have been a provider.
Not only did
he provide for his family, he routinely fed the birds. What power
creates by juxtaposing Bernard's absence (emptiness) with something
of life as a seed! In this poem, seed can be thought of as physical,
intellectual, and emotional nutrition for a relationship. The bird
not the only house that is empty.
Ultimately, this poem is about change and the spirit necessary
to adjust to
ever-changing circumstances. Even at a difficult time of loss, Francine
is so sensitively attuned that she recognizes her feelings objectively
has the courage to express those feelings through art and poetry.
me happy. It affirms that she is indeed thriving.