in winter storm
his own deep footprints
closing behind him
© L. A. Davidson (1917-2007)
Sometimes, what we do seems to make little difference, even though we push hard to be of significance. I think this is one of the main messages of this haiku. The “winter storm” could be our modern life, or it could be the harsh environment of our family life or personal life.
Though this haiku could be seen as cynical, I believe there is a sense of acceptance in it as well. It is an acceptance that our lives are insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe. This acceptance is freeing, as we often put too much weight on our actions and our inactions, and do not see the play of existence for what it is.
This haiku could also be pointing to the fact that human existence is not as powerful as nature itself. Though we like to think we own land, that we can master nature, our actions are unlikely to be more powerful than nature itself. We can change and mold nature to our benefit, but we cannot create something entirely new without its help and substance.
Another take on this haiku is that when there is too much happening at one time, our memory will not be clear. Instead, if we live life simply, we will remember the moments of our lives with more clarity.
There are many more things that this haiku implies, but I will leave that to the imagination of the reader.
Sonically, the letter “o” is the most important sound in the haiku, and brings a sense of elongation of the journey of life, and the dragging feeling that no matter what we do, our actions are not that important.
A poignant image, a beautiful moment, or a cynical look at our existence–all can be correct. This haiku brings a lot to the reader’s mind, and allows for an introspective mood.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky
About the Poet
L. A. (Laura Agnes) Davidson was one of the most honoured and respected American haiku poets of her time. She was born on 31 July, 1917, and grew up in the wide open spaces of Montana. She enjoyed learning and reciting poetry and ballads from a very early age. She gained scholarships towards higher education and college and later graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Minnesota.
Agnes enjoyed writing short stories and poetry, and during her extensive travels through Europe and Africa, she proved to be an excellent correspondent communicating with other poets from far and wide who wished to learn more about the ancient poetry of haiku. Agnes was first acquainted with haiku in 1966, when a friend gave her a copy of Harold G. Henderson’s Haiku in English and shortly thereafter, Agnes began experimenting with the form. Three years later, she had her first haiku published in Haiku Headlights. She considered her haiku to be “a personal journal” written from observations and specific moments of her life.
Agnes was an active member of the Haiku Society of America since its founding in 1968 and she had promoted haiku for many years. She served as a vice president in 1976, a Membership/Subscription Secretary in 1979 and 1981-82, a treasurer for 1989-90, and was also a long-time unofficial historian for the society. Agnes died just two weeks before her 90th birthday on 18 July, 2007, from a massive stroke and heart attack.
L. A. Davidson’s publications include hundreds of haiku in magazines, journals, and anthologies, and she is the author of three books:
The Shape of the Tree: a first collection of haiku and senryu moments of New York City life, New York (Wind Chimes, Glen Burnie MD, 1982; rpt DLT Assoc. 1992, 1996)
Jamaica Moments (DLT Associates, Miami FL, 2002)
Bird song more and more (Swamp Press, Northfield MA, 2003, rpt 2007)
[From The Living Haiku Anthology, with edits]