Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă’s diary

mother’s diary –
between two blank pages
a pressed snowdrop

Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă (Romania)
(previously published in Brass bell: a haiku journal, June, 2014)

What struck me initially about this haiku is the relationship between a personal diary and the life of a snowdrop. The diary is supposed to be about the poet’s mother’s life. However, the pressed snowdrop becomes front and center in this haiku. It transforms into a window in the life of a beautiful flower.

Collecting souvenirs in diaries is common. My father used to do it as well. It is a form of stepping outside of yourself and saying to the reader and the diary writer: look at this. Examine it and discover the world that is this.

In the context of the haiku, I feel the poet looks at the diary of his mother after she has passed away and happens upon the snowdrop pressed between the pages. He then sees the snowdrop as the embodiment of his mother: once delightful but now no more. Their bulbous petals and color also suggest to me that the snowdrop is employed here as a metaphor for motherhood. This is another great example of how haiku bridges the human and natural world.

In each line, the soft sounds of “o” are found. This connects to the subject of motherhood and the passing away of a mother. Punctuation is also employed aptly to make the two parts distinct. Without punctuation, the second line could read as a pivot between lines one and three, which would confuse readers. Lastly, snowdrops appear usually in early spring. This seasonal reference (kigo) works well when we think of it in correlation to a mother: pure, beautiful, and comforting to look at and be around.

Overall, a great snapshot that is charged with background emotion.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

I feel as if I may have read the whole diary through this one haiku. The nostalgic feelings in this haiku show fond memories of a mother. That itself makes this haiku powerful in many ways.

A diary is a collection of day-to-day memories and events where a person sometimes shares very private feelings, and no one will listen to those feelings. The opening line ‘mother’s diary’ perhaps shows the motherhood experiences of a single mother who wants to be listened to by others but can’t

The blank pages may reflect the hesitation, reluctance, or lack of the right expression. It seems the mother wants to share very deep or private feelings but is unable to do so due to various reasons. It also illustrates how visible those feelings are when you go through the blank pages as the writer skillfully connected the blank pages with a snowdrop. A snowdrop that is cold, invisible, and anonymous may indicate tears, deep pain, traumatic feelings, guilt, and/or regrets.

The overall imagery of this haiku may suggest sadness, loneliness, departure, grief, or deep pain that leaves a mother to remain inexpressive and silent.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

— “Snowdrop” by Clive Nichols

Martin Gottlieb Cohen’s bed wrinkles

between the bed wrinkles winter shadows

Martin Gottlieb Cohen (USA)
Previously published in Shamrock Haiku Journal, Issue 27, 2014

Like most one-line haiku in English (Japanese haiku are almost always written in one vertical line), this can be read in several ways. Readers will probably parse it as:

between the bed wrinkles/winter shadows

But there is also:

between the bed/wrinkles/winter shadows


between the bed wrinkles/winter/shadows

…which all have different flavors. But for this commentary, I will speak about “between the bed wrinkles/winter shadows.”

A bed is an intimate place where we sleep, rest, read a book, watch TV, work on our computer, reproduce, or just daydream. So, having winter shadows tucked away in one’s bed wrinkles seems to be an addition to that intimacy. It is a connection between the natural and human world. When we read this haiku, we feel as if nature is never far away, even when we least expect it.

The imagery, though, is more than just a connection. It conveys a mood. “winter shadows” is a kigo or seasonal reference. When we think of winter shadows, we think of loneliness and reflection. In this context, the poet might be expressing his solitary nature at the time of this being written. However, this loneliness is accompanied by a companion: winter shadows. So, this poem may simultaneously express both loneliness and companionship.

Let’s take a look at the sounds of the haiku. We have two cases of alliteration with “between/bed” and “wrinkles/winter.” I feel the first case allows us to read the phrase more smoothly, while the second case makes us read it more disjointedly. This allows us to see the break in parts of this haiku.

Overall, I enjoy the expression of both loneliness and companionship in succinct imagery, helped powerfully by a kigo.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Darkness, shadows, and bed wrinkles—these three aspects can make a night more mysterious. For a moment, this haiku took me back to the time when I used to read mystery novels, which gave me an impetus to read the whole story in one sitting.

The word ‘between’ shows a transition. It also activates our thinking where we immediately start trying to figure out what is happening in the poem. It encourages us to shift our attention to the rest of the poem.

‘bed wrinkles’ is a phrase that can be interpreted in many ways. It shows restlessness, sleeplessness, memories, ageing, nightmares, loneliness, chaos, fatigue, and other physical or mental aspects that make a person change their position while lying down on a bed. It also connects to how life becomes complicated, even when someone tries to take a rest after the long and tiring journey of life. Bed wrinkles shape up like waves, labyrinths, and circles.

Winter shadows reveal the mystery that starts with the word ‘between’. These shadows are deep and dark, which are vivid and influential in many ways. Metaphorically, these shadows relate to traumatic events that cause restlessness and sleeplessness. Mostly, shadows never leave a person, whether of their own or of surroundings. In this monoku, it can be the combination of all types of shadows that collectively disturb the body and soul of a person that overshadows the peace of the night.

This profound monoku depicts the wholeness of life where both the inner and outer world of a person is in a constant flow, which builds the momentum from one reality to another, from one element to another, and makes life more sophisticated in many ways. I feel as if the transformation of one’s thoughts and feelings is inversely proportional to cosmic matters and the environment. That is why the scene ends on a dreamless night.  

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

— Painting by Vincent van Gogh