This is a marvelous story, and I feel honoured to have played a part in it. Whether it’s a report or a haibun, I first posted a slightly different version of this text on Facebook, and Aleksandra Monk also posted it on 7 September 2012 to the Seattle Japanese Garden Community Blog. Also see the “2012 Moon Viewing Haiku Contest” results.
An amazing thing happened at last night’s moon viewing event on 1 September 2012 at the Seattle Japanese Garden, attended by about 600 people. Tanya McDonald and I judged 155 submissions for the haiku contest, and one of the entries had a surprise extra line at the end of it. I knew immediately that I had to read it when we announced all the awards, and Tanya agreed. We had a full evening of Japanese cultural performances and music, with candle-boats launched onto the pond after dark while the full moon rose over the pines. Then Tanya and I read a selection of poems, and announced the top three winners, with much laughter and cheering. After that, I had that additional poem to read. I said the person’s name first, and asked if he was present. Matthew Gatheringwater came up to the front and I asked him privately (everyone could see, but no one could hear) if he definitely wanted me to read what he submitted, and he said yes. This is what I read—Matthew’s poem about the moon:
I’ll light your way
in every phase of life.
My world revolves about you.
Franklin, will you marry me?
And there, in front of 600 people, they hugged intensely while the audience burst into cheers and applause. And Franklin said yes. What’s more, completely unscripted, the person to whom we had just given first place in the haiku contest was also Franklin Edwards. What a wonderful way to end a spectacular moon viewing event.
Matthew and Franklin were married on 15 December 2012.