Poetry Friday: Haiku

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Where I live in northwest Montana, winter can feel like an eternity. Cloudy inversions can drop into our valley for days, sometimes even weeks on end before a cold clear day brings the glorious sunshine back, if even for only a day.

One way to cope with dreary Montana winters (short of denning-in like our native grizzlies) is to embrace our surroundings. For me, this meant a brisk hike with my pups in a nearby state park last weekend. While working our way up a favorite trail, it seemed I was seeing the forest through different eyes. Perhaps it was the stark white landscape that drew my eyes to see what I had passed by so many times last summer. Dead, decaying trees full of holes jumped out at me as if I had never seen them before.

I recalled past field trips with my students in Glacier National Park, where rangers taught us about the amazing biome of old-growth forests, and the importance of dying and decaying trees. On my hike, it seemed all my eyes found were these trees; homes to birds, squirrels, insects, and other winter resistors.

It has been a while since I attempted a poem, but I could feel inspiration bubbling up in me as I continued my hike. I haven’t tried a haiku, so with the continuing encouragement and mentoring from my good friend, Margaret Simon, I share this poem in celebration of and appreciation for old-growth forests.

Not what I once was,I appear hollow, lifeless.Look closely and see.I am valuable.A hunting perch for raptors,Colonized by an (4)

Thank you to Jan @ bookseedstudio for hosting today’s #PoetryFriday link-up!

20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Haiku

  1. Margaret Simon is just a wonder. I really like your haiku and the way they remind us that even death has a purpose in nature. Finding beauty and purpise in dying is such a necessary part of life. Love all the details you list here.

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  2. Warm greetings, Dani. It’s so good to pour the cup of hot tea & meet you. I love this haiku. And also in your vivid essay “winter resistors” grabbed me, too. My hubby & I love decaying trees (much to our neighbors’ distaste – we live in close proximity to other humans.) Maybe I can use your poem to summon a label other than “decaying trees.” Hmmm. You’ve given me an idea. Happy weekend!

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  3. margaretsmn says:

    I love how you combined the poem and image. Side by side, they enhance each other. I’m so glad you are writing more and sharing. This is a wonderful community of writers.

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  4. It sounds like we have a similar winter here in my part of Canada – nothing but grey, grey, grey, except instead of snow, we get never-ending rain! And it’s true – if you’re going to survive the winter, sometimes you just have to suck it up and get outside, whatever the weather!

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  5. You had me at “northwest Montana.” What a beautiful part of the world to find inspiration as you have. I’m so glad you found inspiration bubbling up inside you. This haiku series is such a blend of poetry with ecology. I hope you write more. The idea that this tree still has value and is a home is part of life is really beautiful and important. You mentioned fieldtrips. Are you an educator? Do you write for kids? It’s nice to meet you today.

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  6. lindabaie says:

    My students and I have studied the wealth of support from a ‘downed’ tree, but I’ve never seen such a tree that’s standing and filled with “homes”, Dani. How beautifully you captured it in your haiku, that “feast” of holes.

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  7. maryleehahn says:

    Lovely! I wish I could take my students on field trips to old growth forests in Glacier National Park!! Do you know the book The Hidden Life of Trees? You might like it.

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  8. We’re not quite as cold here in the Midwest Indiana as you are in Montana, but I can sure relate to those long stretches of cloudy days. And I enjoyed a hike through a new (yet to be formed) park with my husband, who is identifying the trees in it. Your photo and haiku are lovely–and an important reminder that our trees have value beyond just their timber–as I like to remind my husband!

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  9. One of the reasons I love walking in the same place over and over is the chance to notice changes in the landscape through the seasons. Your description took me right to your woods with the decaying trees increasingly visible in their winter setting. I love how you grouped your haiku and reminded us to stop, observe, and notice the many kinds of beauty in our world.

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  10. Keri Collins Lewis says:

    For not having tried haiku, you certainly connected us with nature! Well done, Dani! When I taught, I read a picture book about saguaro cacti and all the beauties of their life cycle even after they are “dead.”

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