Birds, Dogs, Trees, the River

Saddest Day Haiku

Blackberry and me at the river, June 30, 2009
Blackberry and me at the river, June 30, 2009

Saddest Day Haiku. That’s what my friend, Karen, called the perfect little poem that she sent me in honor of my dog. Here’s her haiku below. It makes me happy and sad, and, like all of my favorite haiku, it makes a picture in my mind and on my heart.

Patient brown eyes
Shining now beyond the stars
Waiting for me still

About a year and half ago, when Blackberry could still walk fairly well, and when she could still hear me call her name, and when she could still see little creatures in the grass I wrote a haiku for her, too.

In tall grass
fledgling robin cries
—old dog perks up

I know there are all kinds of rules about haiku. I’m really not one for following rules. What was it they taught in grade school: 5-7-5 or 7-5-7? Season words are good, too. To ground you in time and place, I reckon. I mostly write what I call haiku to remember certain moments that I don’t ever want to forget ever. So, I try to keep them about a breath long. Isn’t that what “they” say? One breath. Mostly, I just write enough to let me keep a memory.

My daughter wrote a Saddest Day Haiku, too. Hers reminds me of the night before Blackberry’s last day.

Old dog dozes
nothing hurts
Mom’s sock reaches out

See, my girl made me a pallet on the floor, so I could sleep beside my good friend that night. It’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

It’s been two weeks since we let our dog go on home. This afternoon I heard her scratching at the back door. And now, it seems like maybe I wrote this one for Blackberry, even though I didn’t know it at the time:

i will wait by the river
for bufflehead in winter
and for you to come back home

Snowberry! February 2009
Snowberry! February 2009

3 thoughts on “Saddest Day Haiku

  1. Heartbreaking and beautiful. Your poem was perfect and lovely. The love we share with our animal friends goes deeper than we can say, but your haiku certainly touched my heart. Here is one for a dear departed horse friend of mine: dear gentle giant, English saddles set aside, empty stall brings tears.


  2. haiku is like home, grounding discipline and freedom at the same time and i used to rely on it and blind contour drawing to get me back where i need to be to make art and decisions. and i had forgotten all about them until reading this. thanks gigi, thanks judith. here’s the first one i wrote to remind me why and how i draw:

    To draft this night’s air
    The flutter of one black wing
    Alights, lifts, passes

    Soft half-moon rises
    Dropping mercurial gold
    Across the water

    One sound is heard, plish,
    On the far side of my sight
    Under outstretched limb

    My brush full of ink
    I catch a single moment
    And leave it behind.


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