Monday, September 22, 2014

bad haiku for the last day of summer

today, i explained
the word maple to my class:
may. pull. two little

syllables, mapel
in old english, mapulder
in old saxon, sweet

in any old tongue.
september flashed some color
today, and someone

asked, "what is that?" and
pointed to the reddening
leaves just outside

the window. "just a
maple," i said, dismissing
the tree with a wave.

the student waved back.
"professor, what's a maple?"
i stopped just short of

crashing. eyeing the
tree, i thought about the way
the maple turns first

annually, first
to open the colorwheel
dance, providing the

tempo for the fall
of every subsequent leaf.
i thought about the

sun dancing on the
iced january branches,
and the sap that runs

in march, the welcome
shade in august, and the dance
that begins again

just about now.  that's
what i thought, anyway.  i
said, "it's the acer

saccharum, or the
sugar maple. it gives us
maple syrup." that

was all that student
wanted, a quick answer to
a straight question.  she

smiled.  "it's a pretty
tree," she said.  we all agreed
and went back to the

discussion about
essays ... because that's what we
do every autumn,

we essay to do
some small bit.  we essay to
commune.  are we not

grieved? if we could but
be what ashbery says the
trees try to tell us

we are.  the trees are
here.  so are we.  this counts, this
matters. the maple

turns and pulls us in
toward winter, where we will
still matter, even

when thick, still icy
branches guard against the spring
that brings with it the

slow, sweet sugar it
gives up one drip at a time,
before warmth can bud. 


  1. Beautiful. Your words
    Dance like leaves in the breeze
    While the sun sinks low.

  2. And like the maple, this haiku masterpiece pulls me back in to College Misery. Than you, Greta! I have missed your way of looking at the world.

  3. Today's delicacies,
    tomorrow's staples.
    Need syrup?
    Get maple!

    (Sorry it's not a haiku, but at least it rhymes.)

    Regarding the last day of summer, every year I hide around this time, since the university press officer calls, wanting me to explain the autumnal equinox on TV (and his attitude is always drop everything immediately and service my every, EVERY desire). If he ever corners me, I need to tell him that I'm sorry, but it's not newsworthy since it happens every year. What I may not tell him, since I will be branded an elitist, is that it's too complex a topic for me to explain to a TV audience. It's the time of year when the Sun in its apparent motion along the ecliptic crosses the Celestial Equator going from north to south. They do ask.

  4. Lovely! It seems there is (might be?) hope (in general, and especially for the academic new year that comes just as the calendar year is visibly winding down).

  5. that was the one spot of beauty in my day!

  6. Beautiful. Beautiful. Greta, are you publishing these (pseudonymously)?

  7. academicmadamelibrarianSeptember 25, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    My favorite of your many lovely haiku.

  8. Hello everyone! Thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad that CM resurrected. I didn't realize how much I'd missed it until I wrote this bad haiku.

    Cassandra, I guess this one is a little more hopeful than most of what I'd written for the last year. The last academic year was tea partyin' brutal. In addition to the work brutality, my personal life was undergoing some changes that are ultimately fabulous and fulfilling, but which still remain very challenging (and were especially challenging last year). I seem to have regained some of my sense of humor (and sense of balance) in my daily life. It helps.

    Proffie Galore, I've never published these outside of CM. Who on earth would want to read them? I am grateful for this small space in which to process my own particular brand of misery -- and for my virtual colleagues who seem like friends after all these years who can some how relate to what I'm trying to say.


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