This tanka is packed with emotion and is centered around a stark image.
Last goodbyes are something almost anyone can identify with and the emotions it brings. Sometimes, we never forget these moments, and they linger in our memories each day.
The abruptness of the rain filling the footprints, before the ocean tide could, is poignant. It magnifies the sadness the poet feels and represents a lack of mercy.
But on the other hand , you can see it as a blessing. Looking at the footprints of a loved one who has left can be agonizing and the rain filling the footprints up so quickly show the spontaneous compassion of nature.
So, we have a sad and compassionate view of this tanka, simultaneously.
The language is simple, to the point, and well-paced. It is hard to imagine adding or taking out a word. That is a sign of a strong tanka. Plus, the tanka hits the correct emotional chord and tone that touches readers. If a tanka sounds metallic, it is hard to say that it is a tanka.
The sound of the tanka is important as well. The “o” sound is represented in “our” “goodbye” “on” “how” “your” and “footprints.” This gives the sense of length of yearning–the sense of time being too long. Another thing to note is the alliteration of “footprints filled” which adds emphasis.
The art associated with the tanka (I think it is a photo with painted-over rain) is moody and adds to the atmosphere that the tanka creates.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky