Meteor Shower

      commentary by Cyril Childs and Jerry Kilbride

The following is commentary by the judges of the 2000 Haiku Society of America Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest, in which I won first prize. First published in Frogpond XXIV:1, April 2017, page 81. My poem originally appeared with an em dash to end the first line, but I later changed that to an ellipsis.


                meteor shower . . .

                a gentle wave
                wets our sandals

                                Michael Dylan Welch

Eight words take us to the writer’s side, on the edge of an ocean, a lake or a stream. We look upwards in excitement and wonder to a clear night sky glimpsing the fast and peaceful arcs of meteors as they enter the atmosphere of our tiny spaceship Earth. We do not notice the approach of a small wave and it washes gently across our sandals. Such a small thing, yet it reminds us that all things in the Universe are connected and pulse with miraculous life; that our own lives are crucially dependent on the fragile atmosphere and hydrosphere of our planet. The haiku did not shout to us “choose me.” Rather it appealed through its subtlety, beauty, aptness and strength that grew on us with familiarity. It is the achievement of a writer whose eyes, heart and mind are open to Nature, a poet who knows the craft of haiku.


A weathergram featuring this poem, shown above (click to enlarge), was made by artist Jacqueline Calladine in the autumn of 2014, also adapted for a greeting card. For more details, see Twelve Weathergrams and Haiku Greeting Cards. In the summer of 2018, this poem was made into a limited-edition letterpress broadside by Befuddled Press in celebration of the Haiku Society of Americas 50th anniversary. For more information about the series of twelve haiku broadsides, see the HSA website.