i tie together
Now, let’s get to the commentary:
This heartfelt senryu has two elements due to the choice of words, which provides curiosity to readers.
An anniversary dinner here may be the celebration of a parents’ wedding. So, here I can see this as a matter of deep pain where one spouse is being missed (due to death, separation, or illness). The child may have tried to make this event a special one for the father, who seems to be very old. With a deep emotional state of mind, the son couldn’t figure out how to tie dad’s shoelaces. Shoelaces here symbolize the relationship that is quite messy due to different reasons, and could be a metaphor for the child’s wish to see his parents in a perfect relationship again. Shoelaces tied together indicate confusion, ambiguity, and/or remorseful feelings that may result in a perplexed state of mind and actions.
The other side of this senryu could be full of life, where parents and children are together to enjoy the celebration of an anniversary and play pranks on each other—like shoelaces being tied together in this case.
– Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)
In response to Hifsa:
I also interpreted like you, except that I thought (in a lighter vein) that the son tied up both the laces in order to stop his father from running faster.
– Arun Sharma (India)
Hifsa nailed this and I can’t seem to add more to what she said—especially about the possibility of a prank. “I tie together dad’s shoelaces” says it all. If the word “together” was omitted in the phrase, then it would be more open for interpretation. For example, perhaps his dad was too old to tie his own shoelaces and his son did a good deed. Again, it’s still open to the interpretation of a prank as well.
– Fractled (USA)
What I see here is the naughtiness of the subject… tying “together dad’s shoelaces” could be construed as tying the laces of the two shoes together.
Perhaps the subject sneaked under the dining table. I see him as specially dressed because of the memorable occasion of an anniversary. And having that devilish grin of a naughty child, proceeded to tie the laces of his father’s two shoes as others enjoyed in partaking in the bounty of an anniversary dinner, perhaps with a huge turkey at the middle of the table and champagne on the side… a special casserole, some cake, and what have you.
– Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)
Much has been said about the content, but I would like to touch upon the technical aspects of this senryu.
Senryu commonly don’t have kireji (cutting word), which are represented by punctuation in English. The poet rightly did not insert punctuation due to this.
Also, notice the economy of this poem. It only has seven words, but it has a significant impact on the reader and provides a potent mood.
The format of the lines are not the “traditional” English senryu structure of a short first line, longer second line, and a short third line. However, not only are senryu more free in structure, but it does not matter so much—especially since the economy of the writing is high.
In terms of sound, a musicality is brought into the haiku with a string of “i” letters and may even portray the stress of tying the shoes together. There is a bit of rhyme in the first and second line with “r” sounds, but the strong “r” in the first line and the soft “r” in second line do not make it a heavy rhyme. We generally avoid rhyming in haiku and senryu, but sometimes if it does not push too hard against the reader, it is fine.
An efficient senryu that exudes a strong mood and a keen sense of musicality.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)
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