When I Write a Haiku

by Terry Ann Carter


(after Naomi Beth Wakan)



I look to the sky after parking my car

in my mother’s laneway that forty

below February evening in Ottawa,

ice pointing downward from eaves,

wind sucking the breath from children,

and when I look up after punching

the key fob that locks the car doors

I notice the moon, hazy as it is,

between clouds moving so fast that I can see

darkness floating across its surface

and then it is hidden.


By the time I have reached my mother’s

front steps, the moon has disappeared

altogether, and I wait for a moment

still watching, until I see it again.


My mother is waiting on the results

of cancer tests and I am there

that evening to watch West Wing

our favourite tv show, and share

a cup of tea (orange pekoe) and I

remember the moon sliding behind

the clouds: seeing it—not seeing it.


And I think of her tests: will they be

positive or negative and in my mind

I put these two things together

the moon and my mother’s tests

and it looks like this:



in and out of clouds

my mother’s cancer tests


a kind of connection with the Big Picture

the cosmos, and the little picture

which is me and my mother

waiting, in the space between.



From First I Fold the Mountain: A Love Letter to Books, Windsor, Ontario: Black Moss Press, 2022, pages 24–25. See also Naomi Beth Wakan’s “How to Write a Haiku.”