From Midwest Haiku Anthology

The following prose statement and four poems appeared in Midwest Haiku Anthology, edited by Randy M. Brooks and Lee Gurga, published in 1992 by High/Coo Press in Decatur, Illinois, pages 102 to 104. Prose originally written in December of 1991. This book features haiku by 54 poets and comments about how Midwestern life has shaped each contributor’s perceptions, values, and approaches to writing haiku. Winner of second place in the 1993 Merit Book Awards from the Haiku Society of America, for best haiku books published in 1992. See the Brooks Books website.

The Midwest Can Claim to Be Me

I cannot claim to be Midwestern. I cannot claim to know the land as a wheat farmer knows the land. I cannot claim to know the folds of the low hills, the liberating space of prairie flatness. I cannot claim to have known the Canada geese as they wheeled south—and then north—like a giant prairie tide, pulled by the moon of time, the waves of their distant honks rolling in with the clouds of the changing season. I cannot claim to know those seasons, the quickness of prairie spring, the lightness of summer, the resonance of autumn, and the fullest depths of her winter. I cannot claim to know the fall smell of the sugar beets as they scented the Manitoba air from the nearby factories, to know the sounds of melting snow as cars traversed the streets with brown slush in their wakes. I cannot claim to know the green shoots or the purple flowers of the first crocuses on an Albertan hillside, nor claim to truly know any of this.

But I can claim to have been welcomed into the Canadian prairie from my native England. I can claim to have tasted the seasons of this lonely Midwest, a hinterland of wonder where no one really knows the land to feast on it—but is merely a fleeting dinner guest. I live in California now, where I work in the computer publications field. Yet I miss seeing the weather roll in from the west in the widest of prairie skies. I miss the colours as they trade white for pink, then green for yellow and red.

I cannot claim to be Midwestern. But I feel, having lived in this region, an unqualified realm of simpleness, that it will never leave me, and that the Midwest can claim to be me.



empty silo—

spring wind pops the metal

in and out

summer moonlight

the potter’s wheel

slows

dusty screen door—

the two-year-old’s tongue

tasting summer

open sky . . .

the wounded call

of a snow goose


Foster City, California. Michael Dylan Welch lived for several years in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Canadian Midwest. He writes that in Manitoba, the land with 100,000 lakes, as the license plates used to say, everyone went to “the lake” for the weekend. The haiku in this anthology are from his Manitoba experiences. He currently lives in California where he is an active member of the Haiku Poets of Northern California. He coedits their haiku magazine, Woodnotes, and is the publisher of Press Here.