Patricia Davis’ snowflake

the rest of its life
in my hand…

Patricia Davis (USA)
(Akitsu Quarterly spring 2020)

I like how the first line could not be referring to a snowflake. It could be anything small that fits in your hand. Though, if that’s the case, it seems to invoke melancholy when witnessing the last moments of its life. If the first two lines refer to a snowflake, I like how a snowflake is given special attention as its shape naturally dissolves. Snowflakes have grace and a delicate beauty. Each snowflake is different in design, yet they are all made of the same substance. This brings to mind the Great Seal of the United States: E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “Out of Many, One.”

This haiku reminds us of how temporary our human lives are and to make the best use of our limited time here. It also brings to mind a well-known Buddhist saying: “Form is Emptiness. Emptiness is Form.” Snowflakes are made of water and human beings are mostly made of water. In a spiritual sense, it seems this haiku is marking a transformation from form to formless, from ice crystals to water, to mist to sunlight. Yet, when the sun draws up the water again, and the rain and snow comes, will we be reborn? Who am I? A wonderful haiku with personal and universal significance. 

Jacob Salzer (USA)

A temporary life is manifested in each element of nature, like snowflakes, that delicately take beautiful yet complex patterns in the air but are quite light in weight and barely visible. This is how the fragility of life looks when we reach old age.

“The rest of its life” shows an uncertainty that depends on fate and human touch. In other words, this haiku reflects the compassion and kindness that makes this temporary journey better due to care. To me, the hand symbolizes sympathetic behaviour, support, and caring. Ultimately, we should make life lighter like a snowflake and beautiful like its structure.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I can see a snowflake slowly fading away in the poet’s hand. It feels like it’s a celebration and remembrance of a short-lived life. Time is relative, though. Our lifespan as humans is minuscule compared to the age of the universe, and possibly the universe before this one. I get a sense from this haiku that this poet wanted to express the ethereal nature of our existence (which might relate to the Japanese aesthetic furyu), but also to cherish it. The idea of divinity popped in my head as well while reading this poem. God is said to have us “in the palm of his hands.” The image presented has resonance with this sentiment in relation to us and nature. Through our actions, we will either allow nature to dissipate or to flourish.

Looking at this haiku technically, the ellipsis works well. It shows the gradual duration that the snowflake fades. Even though the length of the lines is not standard for English-language haiku, I believe the poet did right by not having the snowflake come in the first line. This way, it is more surprising and leaves more white space. In terms of sound, the “l” letters to me have the most power. The lightness of the snowflake is expressed through this sound.

A simple yet profound haiku that gives the resonance of concern, spirituality, and introspection.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Wilson Bentley’s “Snowflake 332” (ca. 1890). Photograph. 

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