Pandemic Haiku: Finding Hope and Healing in Seventeen Syllables May 1, 2020 14:09
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We're all coping with this strange new normal as best as we can. I've certainly done a fair amount of yard work (for me, that means picking up fallen limbs and branches and throwing them onto the burn pile), stress cleaning, organizing, and experimenting with new recipes as a way of managing my own concerns and worries.
However, I've also found another effective coping mechanism for dealing with the uncertainties of lockdown lifestyle: writing daily haiku.
5...7...5: Three lines, seventeen syllables! It's the perfect form for staying present and honing in on a specific event or moment.
Since the middle of March, I've spent a few minutes every evening focusing on a specific image, memory, or happening from the day and attempted to capture the essence of that moment.
It started as a lark, really--a way to lighten the mood, and decompress from the onslaught of depressing news coverage, but after 40+ days of documenting my experiences in bite-sized poetry, I've discovered a few surprises.
Surprise #1 These poems have become important reminders that spiritual practices are not limited to the cushion. Actually, they are extensions of meditation, contemplation, and study. In a way, they are nuggets of attention, intention, and practical wisdom.
Full Pink Moon (4.7.2020)
Blushing in the dark,
she shimmers, while peeper frogs
cheer from deep ravines.
Imagine Leaving an Imprint (4.16.2020)
in warm sand, uncooked
pastry dough. Skull. Ribs. Pelvis.
Vajrasattva Recitations at the Laundromat (4.30.2020)
Linens tumble dry.
Quarters, green numbers mark time.
Fluff. Fold. Purify.
Surprise #2 Much like an archaeologist digging for ancient artifacts in the sand, these poems are clues to what matters...what really matters right now (family, humor, nourishment, safety, nature).
Vegetable Soup (4.3.2020)
Slow-cooked leeks, carrots,
potatoes fill the house with
the scent of normal.
Sock Monkey Bandana (4.10.2020)
Wore it as a mask
on a Target run. You thought
it was underwear.
Terrier Vs. Dandelions (4.27.2020)
She runs through tall grass
snatching heads of suns and moons
between sharp, fierce teeth.
Surprise #3 Finally, these poems are evidence of connection and interconnection. They are reminders of the importance of compassion for others, gratitude, and thoughtful reflection.
Bright Spot (3.18.2020)
She waited in line
at Fresh Thyme, cradling yellow
tulips like a child.
Online Zoom Class (3.19.2020)
rise, flow, soar, sway, transcend space
from small square boxes.
Miumiu and Paulo: “Fly Me to the Moon” (3.26.2020)
Two guitars, one voice.
China and Nashville share a
masterclass in grace.
Storms and wind brought them:
body twitching, head thumping
hard against wood floor.
The Early Bird Gets the Clorox Wipes (4.17.2020)
Noon brings empty shelves:
vinegar, lemons, vodka—
Sleeping in has perks.
To date, I have written 40+ pandemic haiku. I don't know how long this sadhana practice will continue, but as with every meaningful practice, motivation and intention are much more important than rushing to completion. Taking a break from frenetic busyness has many blessings and benefits. This haiku project, for me, has helped to recognize and appreciate them.
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