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Haiku Classic: March 4, 2018

opossum bones

    wedged in an upper fork --

    budding leaves


    Lee Gurga (1949- ) From "The Measure of Emptiness."

    The circle of life is readily apparent in this haiku without being too obtrusive. An opossum either died and decomposed or was eaten and excreted by a snake or other predator and its bones were caught in the pocket formed by forking tree branches. The dead opossum has provided nutrients to the plant for it to grow. The poet skillfully leaves out the words "branches" and "tree" because their choice of the seasonal phrase (kigo) "budding leaves" makes them redundant to our understanding of the poem. The leaf buds place the scene in early spring and there is good resonance with the cold bones of the opossum and the leafless limbs of the tree. Rather than using the noun form "leaf buds," the use of a verb gives us the sense of action still happening and life going on.

    Selected and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay

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