Sprigs of Spring

“A haiku . . . is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature.”
—R. H. Blyth

Spring Haiku

                                                                                                                                her first report card—
                                                                                                                                a row of plum trees
                                                                                                                                beginning to pink

                                                                in one car window
                                                                and out the other . . .
                                                                dandelion puff

late blossoms . . .
the aftershock
shakes them down

                                                                spring cleaning—
                                                                dust in the shape
                                                                of unanswered mail

                                                                                                                                spring haze . . .
                                                                                                                                   the alpenglow
                                                                                                                                      going slow

                                                                spring sun—
                                                                a pallbearer stops
                                                                to tie his shoe

spring birdsong . . .
unopened the longest,
the heaviest present

a robin’s song     the next hospital bed now empty

                                                                                                                                spring breeze—
                                                                                                                                the pull of her hand
                                                                                                                                as we near the pet store

                                                                tulip festival—
                                                                the colours of all the cars
                                                                in the parking lot

scattered petals . . .
the thud of my books
in the book drop                              +

                                                                mountain spring—
                                                                     in my cupped hand
                                                                          pine needles

                                                                                                                                spring thaw—

                                                                                                                                the old scarecrow
                                                                                                                                a little taller

                                                                afternoon hike—
                                                                the pussy willows dwindling
                                                                from my handful

spring breeze through the window . . .

     stains on an apron
     left at the counter

                                                                spring cleaning—
                                                                dirt in the grooves
                                                                of the five-iron

                                                                                                                                spring breeze—
                                                                                                                                the oars fed
                                                                                                                                into the oarlocks

                                                                empty silo—
                                                                     spring wind pops the metal
                                                                          in and out

apple blossoms . . .
          into the wind
                 spring rain

                                                                scent of wisteria—
                                                                she finishes translating
                                                                the birth certificate

                                                                                                                                sound of spring rain—

                                                                                                                                a drip clings
                                                                                                                                to the shower-head

                                                                temple blossoms . . .

                                                                the deep tones
                                                                of wind bells

      spring sun—

at the top of the roller coaster
      she says yes

                                                                morning sickness—

                                                                the patter of spring rain
                                                                on our new roof

                                                                                                                                the river flowing stronger
                                                                                                                                     first catkins
                                                                                                                                     on the willow

spring wind spreads the pine needles

birth announcement . . .
a plum petal falls
into my open palm

                                                                drifting cherry petals . . .

                                                                a window goes up
                                                                in the passing limousine

                                                                                                                                drapes drawn—

                                                                                                                                just the edges done
                                                                                                                                on the daffodil puzzle

                                                                spring wind—
                                                                       a cherry blossom
                                                                              circles the well

a withered apple
caught in an old spine rake
. . . blossoms fall

                                                                birdsong fades

                                                                into the cherry’s scent . . .
                                                                she reaches for my hand

                                                                                                                                the cherry tree bare

                                                                                                                                with blossoms by its trunk—
                                                                                                                                an empty stroller

                                                                spring tide
                                                                       slowly lifting
                                                                              coastal fog

plum blossoms ripple
a mayfly moves
from the plover’s shadow


                                                                    on the path
                                                                        the colour of petals

                                                                                                                                Jardin du Lexembourg
                                                                                                                                the bending daffodils
                                                                                                                                under smog

                                                                sending a French postcard . . .
                                                                the daffodil stamp
                                                                tastes like home

impatient schoolkids—
pink tulips sway to a different rhythm
than the red ones

                                                                my hesitant knock—
                                                                the path to her door
                                                                drifted with blossoms

                                                                                                                                cherry blossoms
                                                                                                                                blowing down the lane—
                                                                                                                                my expired meter

Spring Tanka

ひさかたのひかりのどけき春の日にしづ心なく花の散るらん            紀友則
hisakata no hikari nodokeki harunohi ni shizugokoro naku hana no chiruran        Ki no Tomonori

the light filling the air
is so mild this spring day
only the cherry blossoms
keep falling in haste—
why is that so?                                                                                                                                   Ki no Tomonori

(The above is my translation, with Emiko Miyashita, of a poem that was printed on the back of 150,000,000 U.S. postage stamps in 2012.)

                                                                                                                                words do not come
                                                                                                                                for you
                                                                                                                                on your passing
                                                                                                                                till the first warm day—
                                                                                                                                the blossoming plum

                                                                April comes

                                                                and now you are gone,
                                                                you, who told your guardian angel
                                                                each year on your birthday
                                                                not yet

all my books collect dust
except the one of love poems
you gave me that day
when the spring rains
kept us indoors

                                                                on the day

                                                                my old girlfriend
                                                                moves away,
                                                                I change my calendar
                                                                to a picture of spring

blossoms are starting—
                                                                                                                                today, someone has tied
                                                                                                                                a love poem
                                                                                                                                to my favourite tree,
                                                                                                                                that car-damaged plum

                                                                beneath the lilacs
                                                                the April wind
                                                                ripples the pond—
                                                                in every petal
                                                                the curve of your cheek