By Crystal Hurd
This month at All Nine, we are focusing on the Haiku. My Creative Writing students will tell you that I claim this to be the “Lazy Man’s Poem” because when I assign poetry, they ask to turn in haikus. Usually, I respond by laughing and saying, “Certainly not” then I quickly change to a serious expression: “I mean, really, no way.”
Haikus, though, are more complex than they appear. Kelly wrote just last week that haikus “elevate a single moment, giving weight and honor to the smallest most fleeting of pictures”. Most people claim that haikus are “5-7-5 and about nature” but as the Haiku Society explained in its definition, “There is actually no rigid ‘form’ for Japanese haiku”. In essence, it may seem easy, but like most closed form poetry, submitting your thoughts to a previously established pattern can be a difficult task.
So what do I write haikus about? Different things, but most recently my dryer.
Last year, our dryer of thirteen years decided to bite the big one. I typically don’t write affectionate verses honoring common household appliances, however, this had been the first dryer that we owned as newlyweds. It had followed us through different states as well as several personal and professional changes. It dried the clothes from my first load as a wife, to the clothes I wore on my first day of teaching, to the suit I wore when I defended my dissertation (please don’t gasp; it was machine washable).
It was a subtle change at first. I would reach in and find that my towels were still a little damp. One drying cycle became two, then three and four. I began just assuming my clothes were still wet, and starting another cycle without a second thought. We knew it was coming. It was like watching a sick animal struggle, cough, and exhale its last, lukewarm breath. Finally, I discovered that the warm air had evaporated completely. The sopping garments were toppling end-over-end but no heat remained. There was not much we could do to fix it. Most suggested we replace it with a newer model.
As we returned from Home Depot with a receipt and delivery date, I took to Twitter to bid a fond farewell to my dryer:
Your wind is cold now
Thirteen years of service spun
RIP sweet Frigidaire
And then to my new dryer:
Three hundred dollars
And you’ve big hoses to fill
The lint trap’s on top??
I’m not going to lie, I still don’t like the lint trap at the top, but my first load went in and came out toasty and warm on the first try. It was a good feeling and for that moment in time, as trivial and silly as it sounds, I had to learn that life is about moving through our experiences not with nostalgic grief, but with an attitude that welcomes change. My feelings had nothing to do with a big, metal box, but with the fact that our time and strength and vitality are fleeting. With every day, I am growing older. I tire quicker. I need more rest. I accomplish less in a day than I did ten years ago.
In a comical way, I mourned through poetry. Then I buckled in for something new. Change is inevitable, so the best thing to do is just dump that silly lint trap as it showers grey particles all over those yoga pants you forgot you placed on the dryer lid and keep moving. I still have plenty more loads to wash and, as Robert Frost so profoundly stated, “…miles to go before I sleep”. Focus on the positive and don’t forget to add the dryer sheet. Who doesn’t want to smell like a warm summer breeze?
In an ironic twist, I chose to write haikus not about nature but about machines, something often portrayed as antithetical to the sacred, solemn presence of nature. The silly haikus I composed are more about human nature than about “mother nature”. But that’s what makes poetry so wonderful, so vivid. Even something mundane and uninteresting as a household dryer can make good fodder for a verse.
Perhaps next time, I’ll write a deep, despairing haiku to my microwave.
Actually, I’m already on my third one with no great existential epiphanies or tweeted verses, but…
Certainly not…I mean, really, no way.
Dr. Crystal Hurd is a writer, reader, public school educator, and adjunct professor. She is happily married with three beautiful Terriers (adopted from local shelters). She is a certified book nerd who loves to read and research works involving faith, literature, art, and leadership. You can visit her webpage www.crystalhurd.com , friend her on Facebook, (Crystal Sullivan Hurd) and follow her on Twitter: @DoctorHurd and @hurdofficial.