A classically beautiful, poignant, and deeply powerful spiritual haiku.
My initial, physical reading evoked a shared experience; the reader is led to recollect their own sleepless nights. Usually we lie awake when we are worried or troubled. But actually at night our brains are constantly working – mostly it seems processing problems, fears. They are literally reconstructing our memories and searching for solutions. Sometimes they even hide from our conscious mind interpretations which might be troubling or disturb us. It is with a sense of shock I come back to this poem after a week and realize I had completely missed the deeper problem and challenge of Billy Collin's work: that the first line is not in fact "awake at night" but "awake in the dark". We are all conscious beings, awake in the mysteriousness of existence. What we don't know is darkness – and that, Billy Collin's seems to be suggesting, is literally everything both inside and outside of our bare, lonely awakeness. Then a moment of enlightenment. The sound of rain falling on a magnolia triggers a zen-like revelation, a true satori insight.
The melancholy consequence for the magnolia petals – already referred to by one of the readers – are also, I suspect, fully encompassed in what Billy Collins has in mind in that insight. Indeed, the construction of the haiku, in a classical 17 syllables across 3 lines, but with a subtle break in the expected count (5-6-6 instead of the classical 5-7-5) makes me think the poet wants us to physically share his sense of imperfection; nothing is ever quite right in the world.
Truly a beautiful, wistful, wabi and challenging haiku. Thank you for sharing it with us.
And thank you to the editors of Tinywords for selecting this work to close out the Issue. This reader sits humbly in admiration at the wisdom behind your selections and publication sequence.