skeleton of the tree
on each leaf back
Plover, #3 (Japan, Jan/Feb 1991)
© Francine Porad (1929 – 2006)
I am drawn to the fractal nature of Francine Porad’s poem, something we’ve all seen but that Francine puts into words. The shape of the tree finds an echo in the shape of the leaf. Perhaps there are further echoes both larger and smaller as well, yet here we are, now, dwelling in the shape of the decaying leaf — aware too, perhaps, of our own mortality and the repeated cycles of living and dying.
– Michael Dylan Welch (USA)
very lovely poem and so true on a practical and philosophical level: i collect and press leaves and this year, i started to use them in making collages, bookmarks, etc. it happens quite often that i paste the leaf the ‘wrong’ (back) side up, precisely for the reason Francine noted in her poem: a sketch and remembrance of the tree and the seasons’ past are well pronounced there, in the leaf’s veins. in late autumn, as the leaves deteriorate, indeed only skeletons are left.
– Aleksandra Monk (USA)
This haiku says two things to me: that the melancholy and deterioration of autumn is amplified if one looks closer, and that despite there being decay, the life of an organism (a tree in this case) is still represented clearly throughout its being.
But since we have had a good look at the substance of this haiku by other commentators, I want to discuss the technical stuff as well. I like the indentation to bring more focus to the tree and to supply a pause to imagine a late fall.
The next thing that caught my eye was the use of “l” and “k” sounds. To me, the “l”s bring an added poignancy to the reading and the “k”s conjure starkness.
I also want to note how great the phrasing is. Each word is useful and powerful, and it is structured just right for a potent impact on the reader.
A fine haiku that embodies its chosen season well, from a great pioneer of the American haiku scene.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)
Did you enjoy this haiku and commentary? Let us know in the comments section below.
– Art by Tan Jialin