Michael Buckingham Gray’s circling osprey

circling osprey
closing a hole
in the clouds

Michael Buckingham Gray (Australia)
(published previously in Presence, 74, 2022)


In my first reading, the imagery spoke of a sense of completeness and union. With the circling osprey in a “hole,” the cloud gains back its full cover over the sky. This could symbolize the uniformity of us all ultimately or that the clouds and the ospreys are the same (and everything else as well).

Knowing that ospreys circle in the air during courtship, this haiku takes on new interpretations. The serendipity of the cloud’s hole being covered by the courting ospreys shows that random acts, and even intentional ones, sometimes change the things that surround it. I don’t know if there is any objective sense of “good” in the imagery, but with the word “hole,” I feel as if something is being resolved. It is a feeling of positivity that is more intuitive. Perhaps, the most favored type of haiku is felt and understood intuitively.

A lovely, succinct haiku that presents exacting imagery and a special feeling.

Nicholas Klacsanzky

An osprey is a fish-eating bird of prey known for its migratory habit. The colour of its feathers and long-range flight makes it one of the most unique birds. A circling osprey is linked with the act of courtship, which is also called a sky dance. There may be other reasons for circling, though i.e. reducing energy for a flight, a balancing act of staying in the sky to stay within the thermals, or a way to prepare for migration. In any case, I can see it as a mode of survival that the bird has by having non-verbal communication with its surroundings and symbolically giving a message to its female partner or prey. This is how birds demonstrate how powerful every move or gesture they make is.

I can also see a whirlpool in the sky that is formed as a result of merging both the white features of the osprey and the clouds. It is a kind of beauty that fills the void in the sky, as the rest of this poem says. “Closing a hole in the clouds” is how powerfully and energetically a bird can fly in the sky so that one cannot see any flaws or blueness of the sky. It’s a beautiful, meditative image of covering what is yet to be completed. Life is full of such voids that need our ways of dealing with them by using our abilities and energies in the right direction.

This haiku seems to give a lesson on how one can turn things in their favour by using the right energies at the right time and by having faith in their unique potential.

Hifsa Ashraf

The clouds in this haiku could depict autumn, winter, or spring. To visualize only one hole makes me think the clouds are thick. I do think kigo (seasonal references) in haiku are not always categorized rigidly by the four seasons but can depict transitions between the seasons throughout the year.

In terms of sound, the letter “c” takes precedence and amplifies the circling motion. Also, the “o” sound brings a sense of wholeness where even the hole is an important part of the bigger picture. A see the hole in the clouds as a kind of portal into another dimension. In that sense, perhaps the Ospreys could be the gatekeepers to another realm. 

The movement of circling also reminds us of the cycles of life, and that even when we have apparent holes in our life, we are never alone. The clouds too are impermanent, as is the temporary hole.

There is no kireji or a hard break in this haiku. The poem can be read without any pauses at all, but the 3-line format allows us to read the haiku at a steady pace. I feel the lack of a hard kireji adds to the feeling of wholeness in this poem.

This is an excellent haiku that symbolizes the cycles of life and death while also leaving room for metaphors.

Jacob D. Salzer

Japanese woodblock print from Pictorial Monograph of Birds (1885) by Numata Kashu (1838-1901).