New Zealand poet Sandra Simpson packs the inner heat wave of menopause, the piquant flavor of a fourth marriage, and the beautiful death of big dreams into three lovely haiku.
heat wave –
holding the soft part of my wrist
under the tap
The term “heat wave” has a wonderful double resonance as the natural phenomenon of a period of scorching outdoor temperatures and as a metaphor for the hot flashes that often come with the equally natural process of menopause. Either way, one can imagine seeking relief from the external or internal heat by holding the sensitive flesh of the underside of the wrist beneath a trickle of cool water, a common remedy for the discomfort of hot flashes.
the water jug
stuffed with mint & lemon –
her fourth husband
Far richer than the purity of the first marriage, the water jug in the first line, which I read as representing the fourth marriage, is packed with stuff – natural, earthy, fragrant, and tasty stuff, but stuff nonetheless. The stuff of a life full of experience – the astringency of previous marital loss, the minty coolness of taking it all in stride. Far from plain old spring water, the water in the jug is infused with the perfume of many lifetimes.
blossom wind –
too late now to be
who I wanted to be
The moment when you realize you’ll never play professional baseball. Or become a great chef. Or become a parent. This wistful poem represents that moment as the part of the self that dreams our dreams – which is to say, the deepest part of the self – dying, drifting away like flower petals on a spring breeze. And that breeze – that “blossom wind” – is historically especially good at blowing women in every direction – into and out of marriages, from location to location as trailing spouses, into motherhood, out of careers. At the same time, this poem also transforms that deep and dreamy part of each of us into something it never dared to imagine it could become: the simple, perfect petal of a flower.
Sandra Simpson co-organised the 2012 Haiku Festival Aotearoa (New Zealand) and in 2018 is co-editing the Fourth NZ Haiku Anthology. Sandra is the founding editor of the online Haiku NewZ (2004), has been secretary of the Katikati Haiku Pathway Committee since 2006, and South Pacific editor for the annual Red Moon anthology since 2012. She has won several awards for her haiku and judged international competitions. Sandra published a collection of her haiku, breath, in 2012 and from the same year has had her own haiku blog, also called breath. She grows orchids as a hobby.