On a haiku by Robert Gilliland

the soft splash
of a lap swimmer’s strokes
morning coolness

One of the June selections for this year’s Haiku Calendar, this haiku, by a former Associate Editor of The Heron’s Nest, is exemplary in its mood of serenity. For me, the swimmer’s action has an implicitly metronomic, perhaps hypnotic, quality to it, which contrasts with, and cuts through, the chilliness of what has to be early morning, well before 8am. Due to the inclusion of the word ‘lap’, implying a degree of proficiency and/or dedication, I see the swimmer as one of a handful of regulars in what must be an outdoor pool. The balance of the haiku – with three syllables in the first line, six in the second and four in the third – is nice, and all those instances of the letter ‘s’ make the poem easy on the ear. There’s no flashiness at work here, it’s just a quiet rendering of an everyday scene in straight-talking language, as many of the best haiku are.

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