I straighten my back
© Antonietta Losito (Italy)
This is something we do that is inexplicable, and often unconsciously. But the poet, through her observation, noticed this familiar, but intriguing action. What is the meaning of straightening one’s back before coming to one’s childhood home? A multitude of interpretations come to mind: you remember the words of your parents to keep your back straight, you want to return to your childhood days somehow by making your back straight as it was when you were a child, you become more alert when you enter your childhood home, it could reference the purity you had as a child and now you are trying to pretend you have that purity still, or it could be that you await your parents inside the house and you want to show you are a good child of theirs by keeping your back straight.
A straight back shows confidence, healthiness, and is often associated with youth. It is almost as if the poet wants to become who she once was when she enters her childhood home, though it is not possible.
This tension, this situation of limbo, is a common theme in senryu and haiku, but it is subtly referenced in this poem. The poet is an adult, but may feel as if she is a child at home—essentially feeling like an adult and a child at the same time. This uncertainty is spiritual, in a way, as when we are certain of something, that means we have come to a dead end in our awareness. Not fixing ourselves on specific ideas allows us to grow and to advance in our spiritual awareness.
The sound of the senryu lends to its meaning. With the “o” sounds, you can feel the longing for being a child once again. The senryu’s language is straightforward, but has many implications. It is a real “sketch of life” senryu.
I think in a sense, each of us yearn to enjoy our childhood self again, for its innocence, wonder, and fresh awareness. This senryu brings this pining to the fore of the reader’s mind in a casual but intimate way.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky