between the bed wrinkles winter shadows
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