Haiku: A Vase to Hold Garden Thoughts

A haiku is a short poem about nature. At its best, it lets the reader experience a scene—causes her to feel the emotions of being there! I think you’ll find, like I have, that the structure (five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third) creates a vessel that is the perfect size for filling with the ephemeral “garden thoughts” that unfurl in your mind.

If you and I are similar, haiku will probably come to you as you are watering your plants. Watering forces me to be outside, to be alone, to contemplate. Like driving or showering, it occupies my physical body with a rote activity and frees my mind to create. As my wise neighbor puts it, “Watering the garden is therapy.”

On a recent hot morning, as my garden hose hovered above the summer phlox, this haiku sprouted in my mind:



Collared cat tiptoes

Atop sun-warmed shed shingles—

My groggy heart leaps!


Something about seeing that random cat on my garden shed filled me with happy expectations for the coming day.  Another day, as I sprinkled water on the gardenia, I startled a cabbage white butterfly. This haiku bloomed:



A white butterfly

Above gardenia blossoms—

Petals taken flight.


I encourage you to let your imagination fill the simple structure of the haiku. The way these tiny poems flutter into your mind unexpectedly will make you smile.