International Women’s Haiku Festival: Three Haiku by Jessica Malone Latham

wispy clouds
Photo: Indi Samarajiva/Creative Commons/Flickr

Wispy clouds drift over an intimate moment, a frail woman perseveres on a walk through an ancient forest, and the awe in a father’s heart fill three lovely haiku by U.S. poet Jessica Malone Latham.

cloud wisps
the secrets he whispers
in my hair

This beautiful haiku offers a tight shot on a private moment. Music links the poem’s central aspects by way of the sibilants in “wisps,” “secrets,” and “whispers.” That the secrets are whispered in the poetic speaker’s hair, not ear, suggests the untidy sensuality of a deeply intimate relationship.


old-growth forest
the stick that holds
her limp

I imagine an older woman limping with walking stick through an ancient forest. Here, subject and setting are linked by worldly experience, by the suggestion that they share the earthy wisdom that comes with years. And while the forest – nature in one of its grandest expressions – is often portrayed as the setting for frightening supernatural events, in this haiku it is a place of comforting solitude, embracing and supporting a late-life journey ever deeper through time.


the look in his eyes
as the children fall asleep
night blooming jasmine

Even in dark of night, some flowers blossom. The father figure implied in this lovely haiku is entranced by, and in awe of, his sweetly sleeping children – that, even while asleep, they will grow, blossom, flourish, as will his dreams for them. The poetic speaker observes this moment and shares it with the reader, pulling back the curtain on a domestic scene full of love and wonder.

Jessica Malone Latham, M.A. is a poet, writer, translator, and educator. Her haiku, haibun, senryu, and tanka have appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Sakura Award (2017), a semi-finalist for the Art of Haiku contest, (May 2017) and runner-up for the Haiku Calendar Competition, where two of her poems were included (2017). She has published three collections: cricket song: Haiku and Short Poems from a Mother’s Heart (Red Moon Press) and chapbooks, clouds of light (wooden nickel press) and all this bowing (buddha baby press).


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