Haiku Reflections

Anthony Viney

uninvited guest
sleeping in the hall –
chased out by soap and water

Throughout lockdown I’ve been writing haiku. It’s been rather like having a daily training session (well, more like a couple of times per week if I’m honest) and it has helped trim my somewhat flabby lockdown mind into a rather more defined shape – mainly by encouraging me to observe and reflect on nature and its many subtle resonances for humankind. I’ve actually been using haiku in this way for the past few years as part of my practice as a visual artist, but as a discipline it has become far more significant and poignant since Covid made its appearance.
I often create haiga – a marriage of drawing and haiku – using my haiku. And, having found the combination of words and images a very good platform from which to explore my changes of mood and understanding, I’d like to share some further reflections here.

coronavirus
what goes around comes around –
ah, musical chairs!

When I look back at the haiku I wrote last year they seem to move from the strangeness I initially felt at our new lockdown lives, through the loss of freedom and the gradual slowing down of life in general, finally to a sense of the truly terrible loss of life – and the realisation of the grief that accompanies each and every one of these deaths.
it’s another quiet day –
sitting all alone
on the top of mount Fuji

only on this day
having done six months inside –
beetles on the run

I look at the menu
and choose sleep –
it’s the perfect choice

there is a vast past
that is fast melting away –
we’re splashing in the puddles

Because all life is precious, an enhanced sense of transience can only make it feel more so. And while I’m sure there will be a renewed sense of life and energy once we finally emerge on the other side of the pandemic, some of the lessons lockdown has taught us will surely serve us well throughout our lives.

the fire of life –
blazes every morning
until day dies down

There were also some undoubted upsides to the lockdowns. London for one experienced clear blue skies for weeks on end in spring 2020, and the quietness that enveloped many neighbourhoods was a balm to our anxious souls.

London’s lockdown –
knocked out bars
and clear blue skies

My final haiku in this piece was given to me by email. On one particular morning during lockdown, the subject lines of three arrivals in my inbox all began with the words ‘time to’, then continued with ‘recover’, ‘reflect’ and ‘refresh’ respectively. As that still seems good advice, I offer it as a final thought about my lockdown experience:

time to recover
time to reflect
time to refresh

Volume 35 no 4 March – April 2021

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