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The Heron´s Nest
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Volume I, Number 2: October, 1999.
Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Heron´s Nest Award

      the frayed rope
      swings back into the shade–
      country swimming hole

                                            Burnell Lippy

Burnell Lippy doesn´t explain what is happening; he gives us the component images. These images are clear: a frayed rope, the shade of the tree from which the rope is swinging, and the swimming hole by which the tree stands. The implication is obvious; children are having good old-fashioned summer fun, and through the words of this haiku, we too can share in the immediacy of their pleasure. This poem points directly into summer and the relief we seek from its heat. Kids take turns swinging out over the water and letting go, each wanting to make the biggest splash. This is something a great many of us have done at least once in our lives; it´s a universal summer diversion, an age-old childhood joy. Even those who haven´t experienced this pleasure themselves surely have heard of rope swings and swimming holes. How cool!

This poem also embraces timeless human urges: to take a chance, to let go, to enjoy instant results from our actions. The rope´s frayed end indicates its long use for these purposes; it´s swinging back into the shade represents inevitability, a reaction for every action, karma, return to the source. The country swimming hole might as well be Basho´s old pond, the "uncut block of wood," or "who we were before our parents were born." It´s the arena of existence into which we plunge, but in this poem kids are making splashes, not frogs.

In the seventies Andy Warhol predicted that everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. Yet what he referred to was recognition by others. For most of us fame comes from the inside, fantasies through which we recognize what is actual, that we are all exceptional and we are all worthy. In an odd sort of way, this haiku is a realization of Warhol's prediction. It suggests the enjoyment of our moments in the sun. Each child arcs out into the bright, hot sunshine, and a glorious few seconds of "fame," which of course includes the cold splash–reality–heralded by a screech of excited pleasure. This is followed by some happy thrashing about, and a swim back to shore for another turn. We may not often be aware of it but, in truth, each of us has always been famous.

Thank you Burnell Lippy, for inviting us to the swimming hole. We join you in the excitement of letting go, and celebrating life as it shocks us into laughter.

  Christopher Herold
October, 1999