After more than half a year away from Tinywords, I returned today and the poignancy of this poem strikes me as a personal reproach for all the reasons I have been neglecting poetry.
Claudette is a masterful haiku poet, and she regularly manages to arouse that wabi melancholy that I associate with Shiki. Several of her poems previously published on Tinywords deal with reflections on personal grief, and each of them have been profoundly affecting.
One of the ways a great poet manifests their mastery of the art is through the creative exploration of form. Of course most haiku apprentices would be aware of how the Japanese immortals like Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki experimented with and at times deliberately violated the strict "rules" of classical haiku in some of their works. When I read this haiku by Claudette I count the syllables, not to see if she has "failed", but precisely to better appreciate how she has crafted the poem to match the subject matter. A "eulogy" for a brother is surely one of the most difficult speeches someone can give. It is a "formal" occasion, and there is the expectation of "controlling" yourself despite the deep emotion of loss. Yet, as anyone who has ever given one would know, it is not possible to deliver such a eulogy without cracks showing and our voice wavering. I read this haiku in the same light – formality cannot contain the subject matter without doing an injustice to the subject, to oneself, or the form!
Indeed, most people find their lives turned "upside down" by an unexpected death, and I read the inverted syllabic arrangement as a representation of this experience.
As for kigo, while not obligatory in English-language haiku, I believe the word "eulogy" in Claudette's poem is definitely such a word, comparable to the traditional autumn season kigo "haka mairi" or "grave-visit". And there is a very definite caesura at the end of the first line, separating the context from the reflection.
My condolences to Claudette, and my thanks for sharing such a personal, poignant and powerful haiku.