Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Imperfect Haiku

At age 7, during my first semester of second grade, I wrote an imperfect haiku:

"A dog is made of
Love. And so are
you. And so is a bird."
People look at it now, framed on the wall in my office, and have one of two reactions. It's either an "Aww, that's so cute" response, or some variation on "What were you trying to write?" I don't remember much about this poem -- not the poetry unit we must have been studying, or my teacher praising me for what I'd come up with. I do vaguely recall my parents being excited about it, and I think it was my father's secretary, an amateur calligrapher, who penned it on a piece of fancy French stationery paper, so that my parents could frame it.
As an adult, I can imagine my parents must have been quite moved by what they read. We were not particularly religious, so I didn't get this notion from church, or the Bible. My parents didn't really go around expounding on their philosophies of how to treat other people. So they must have looked at this thing I wrote and wondered, did this really come out of our son? I was the exact age then that my older son is now, so I can easily put myself in their place.
It marked the first time I was ever "recognized" for a piece of writing, so it may have set me on that path, or certainly been one of the determining factors that made me consider being a writer. Of course, the encouragement of teachers and parents is invaluable in the development of a child, and I was definitely afforded some good old-fashioned positive reinforcement here.
Growing up and seeing the imperfect haiku (it's got the wrong number of syllables, according to traditional formula), I was always a little embarrassed by it. I thought it was silly -- a goofy sentiment.
Now that I have arrived at middle age, however, I have come to understand that these words are not goofy, silly or cute. In fact, they're profoundly spiritual. These are the words of a child who looked at the world around him and saw a connecting influence, a thread that ran through all things. He didn't get it from doctrine, dogma or parental speeches. He got it from watching his parents and how they treated each other and him. And how they interacted with the world around him.
The moment I wrote down this poem, I wrote down my philosophy on life. And you know what? It hasn't changed much in the past 40 years.
A dog is made of love. And so is a bird.

And so are you.

1 comment:

  1. i love this. the poem. the style. and especially the blog.