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Sherry Chayat


Flotilla of ducks
Swimming toward Armory Square
Don't know summer's gone

I was standing on the banks of Onondaga Creek, at the Zen Center, watching a group of ducks. It was the end of summer. They were swimming along in a sort of military formation, quite intent on where they were going. I thought, Hmmm, they don’t know it’s called summer, or fall; they don’t follow a calendar, but they are intuitively aware. To them, it’s just a beautiful day. It’s warm, and they’re swimming, north, toward Armory Square.

Every haiku has to include a reference to the season, and has to have some kind of grounding in a specific place. So I wanted a humorous reference to the fact that fall was coming, yet here are these ducks swimming in formation toward the center of the city, going north.

Geese honking southward
Over Onondaga Creek—
Whirling dervish leaves

I was watching the geese flying south over the Zen Center. The leaves were being blown through the air by the wind. Onondaga Creek was flowing north, the geese were flying south. There was great commotion, visually and aurally. So I wanted words that captured the movement and the sound—wind, honking—and that also conveyed the feeling of a season coming to an end.

Fall’s bittersweet quality is one of a brief crescendo that then dies away. Leaves are falling from the trees, birds are migrating from the area—there’s a last flurry of excitement that takes place as fall deepens, before the stillness of winter.


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