Origami Pinwheels

First published in A Hundred Gourds 5:1, December 2015. Originally written July 2015.

Origami Pinwheels by Kay L. Tracy. Privately published, 2015. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-9964679-0-2. 8 x 10 inches, saddlestitched, full colour. $15.00 plus shipping, available on Amazon, or from the author at 13620 SE Raymond St., Portland, OR 97236-4007 USA (checks or money orders payable in U.S. dollars to Kay L. Tracy).

You could read this entire book in under two minutes if you wanted to. But to read at such a pace would do it an injustice. Kay L. Tracy’s Origami Pinwheels offers just ten poems, but how it offers them is a true delight, with wondrous, enveloping illustrations that provide easy appeal for both children and adults. Each poem appears in a perfectly chosen font—a little ornate, yet easy to read—on a two-page spread with an illustration around it and on the opposite page. The watercolours, also by the author, appear in a vibrant palette of pastel flavours. For example, the opening poem,

a new pinwheel

the breath of wind and Jasmine

conducting butterflies

appears with a gentle blue and green illustration of a girl amid flowers and leaves. Her name is Jasmine, and she appears again in the book’s last poem, but here she is blowing her breath into an unseen pinwheel. It’s that unseenness that elevates the image from illustration to haiga. Across the page two butterflies cavort in the breeze. A later poem,


through pinwheel spokes

Mother smiles

employs an effective pivot line (kakekotoba in Japanese), and is also paired with a whimsical image. The women or girls who appear in the various illustrations each have a colourful shawl over their heads, and nearly all of the images are set outdoors. All but one of the women have their eyes closed, as if to inhale more strongly the scent of flowers around them. Scattered through the book’s garden are butterflies, a cocoon, a grasshopper, a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, ants, ladybugs, fireflies, and moths. In some cases the butterflies resemble pinwheels. In the last two spreads, day has become night. As the crescent moon sprinkles pixie dust among fireflies, Jasmine dreams of Luna moths and pinwheels (I’m quoting three of the book’s four pinwheel poems here).

breezes beckon

a parade of children waving

origami pinwheels

The author is emerging as a haiku poet like a butterfly from a cocoon. With her first haiku book, Origami Pinwheels, Kay L. Tracy unfolds like a swallowtail, and spreads her wings into a gentle breeze. Don’t miss this butterfly of a book, one that’s worth its weight in wonder.