cherry-petal shells . . .
even the sand crabs live
in that light

—William J. Higginson

Cherry-petal shells are actual sea shells that are very small, and shaped and colored much like fallen cherry blossom petals. In fact, they sometimes turn up on beaches in parts of Japan (and elsewhere) at about the same time as cherry blossoms fall, and so form a sort of eerie counterpoint--though, to the best of my knowledge, they are not often seen together (the shells and petals), if ever.

I wrote the poem on receiving a gift of some of these shells from a friend. The light in an area of cherry-tree blossoming is quite fantastic, I think the main thing that gives the phenomenon its power. Thus, the poem. Appropriate to traditional Japanese spring, i.e., February through April, though tying it to the light of cherry blossom time makes it best for March or April.

About the author: William J. Higginson, poet and writing teacher, lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Author, with Penny Harter, of The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku, and author of The Haiku Seasons: Poetry of the Natural World and Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac, as well as Quantum Spring: Haiku on the Los Alamos Fire (forthcoming); co-translator with Tadashi Kondo of Red Fuji: Selected Haiku of Yatsuka Ishihara and Over the Wave: Selected Haiku of Ritsuo Okada. (buy these books) Also, editor of the "Haiku and Related Forms" pages of the Open Directory.

William Higginson's web site
Contact: wordfield at


Responses to the haiku for 5 March 2001 by William J. Higginson

    2003-04-23 12:54:27

    Very Good!!

    john tiong chunghoo (bagiruang at yahoo dot com)
    2004-02-23 05:54:26

    window pave
    a lizard strikes
    swallowing a little one alive

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2004-05-08 19:15:16

    among harsh brown leaves
    sea grapes ...
    continuing my walk on the beach


    Vassile Moldovan (vasilemoldovan at yahoo dot com)
    2004-06-17 03:39:55

    So many memories...
    shells of cherry blossoms covering
    the Golden Sand

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2004-11-11 03:37:28

    vibrant red bougainvillea
    autumn's chill --
    good to be alive