Five words. Five words that propel thought beyond logic to a preconscious state of awareness—a momentary glimpse of wholeness. It has lightning fast precision. I remember reading this poem in R’r 11.1 (Feb. 2011) and instantly it became one of my favorite haiku.
I’m familiar with Southern California wildfires. One in 2007 forced us to evacuate our home because of immediate danger. Thankfully our house was spared and when we returned there was an inch of ash that needed to be swept up. Ash worked its way into everything—even under the gas cap flap on the car. Because of the wind the ash was able to penetrate the void in and around things. Breeze and ash are bound together in this give and take of definition. Some breezes can only be observed when the ash is disturbed.
A reader doesn’t necessarily need to experience a major wildfire to appreciate this poem. Think of an ash at the tip of an incense stick. The slightest breeze both feeds the fire that produces the ash and disseminates the ash. Air is both starting point and the end. This toggle between microcosm and macrocosm gives power to these five words. And its artistry doesn’t diminish through a hundred readings.
If we consider the poem from an aural perspective, the music of vowels and consonants, this poem is a gem. The movement from the long ‘e’ in ‘breeze’ through the staccato of ‘syn.on.ym’ to the open ‘a’ in ‘ash’ with the ‘sh’ at the very end is the trajectory of life. The initial breath in ‘breeze’ carries though the small encounters in ‘synonym’ (like the rain pinging down obstacles in Eve Luckring’s concrete haiku) to the final shush in ‘ash.’ We feel the subtle echo of this music beyond words moving outward and inward. It’s primordial and pure poetry! Thank you, Philip Rowland.
- Cherie Hunter Day