Tag Archives: haiku

Meditations on a mountain: five haiku



sunrise paints the slopes

in semi-precious colours

pearlescent with ice



the wind carries the

tang of fresh snow, sends flocks of

prayer flags fluttering



rising up from the

monastery the scent of

sandalwood incense



sunlight glints off prayer

wheels, inscriptions worn smooth by

a million fingers



the mountain’s a sand

mandala, washing away

in the stream of time


© Helen Lewis, 2013



I wrote this series of linked haiku during a round of SPARK, in response to a painting by Cynthia Pailet. See the two together here.




A teenage girl walks

the November woods at dusk,

leaves no trail of breath.

                                                                        After three hundred

                                                                        years I still look like the child

                                                                        I was modelled on.

Low shafts of sunlight

cut between branches; the girl

stops in a clearing.

                                                                        I’ve known everything

she’d have known and more; lived her

 life four times over.

The girl bends down, scrapes

back leaves to reveal bare earth;

a lone blackbird sings.

I’ve never known the

grip of pain before, and now

I can’t escape it.

The girl claws at the

soil with her fingers; the trees

breathe in unison.

Before yesterday

I’d never harmed another

sentient being.

The earth will not yield;

the girl drops to her knees, mud-

caked hands to her face. 

I am made of earthstuff –

ores torn from the planet’s womb

by those who made me.

The girl lies down, scoops

a blaze of leaves across her

legs, belly and chest.

Ice-hot pain that comes

from everywhere and nowhere

is calling me home.

Now the final leaf

is placed; one uncovered eye

flares, and then grows dark.


(C) Helen Lewis 2011

The first leaf of autumn


Phaedra the wood nymph sings and dances, showering the glade with rose petals. She is naked apart from a chain of daisies around her head. As she sways, her long hair swings. Suddenly she stops.

‘Who’s there?’ she calls. ‘Show yourself!’

A young man emerges from a bush. He has sun gold hair and sky blue eyes, and his garments are willow green.

‘I am Summer,’ he says, ‘deity of the season. I wander the earth at this time of year, inspecting my handiwork.’

‘I am not your handiwork,’ says Phaedra. ‘You have no right to inspect me.’



Dear Diary,

You’ll never guess what happened today! I was singing and dancing in the nude like I always do, and this bloke popped up out of a bush and told me he was a god. A god!!!! I was totally gobsmacked — you don’t get to meet gods very often. Actually, I did meet one once, but he was old and ugly and full of himself, so he doesn’t count. And this one was abso-bloody-lutely gorgeous! He tried to kiss me and I didn’t stop him. I think I’m in lurve!



From: bunny@yahoo.com

To: freeze_ur_butt@gmail.com; misty@hotmail.com

Subject: Our wayward brother


It has come to my attention that Summer has declared his love for the wood nymph Phaedra.

It is not fitting for a deity to become romantically involved with a semi-mortal.

We need to take action.


Vernal Deity


From: freeze_ur_butt@gmail.com

To: bunny@yahoo.com; misty@hotmail.com

Subject: Re: Our wayward brother

I reckon wood nymphs are fair game. I tried to cop off with Phaedra myself once, and she gave me the cold shoulder. If I can’t have her, then I don’t see why anyone else should.

I agree that we’ve got to do something.




From: misty@hotmail.com

To: freeze_ur_butt@gmail.com; bunny@yahoo.com

Subject: Re: Our wayward brother

Hey guys,

I don’t think there’s anything we can do right now. It’s Summer’s time, you know? But when the first leaf of autumn falls, the mystical power thingy transfers to me, and I’ll do something rad.


Your mellow brother,

Autumn (AKA Fall)




Summer is drawing

to a close. It rains all night

and in the morning


the lovers embrace

beneath a maple tree and

share tearful goodbyes.


‘I’ll come back next year,’

says Summer. ‘You better had,’

Phaedra whispers back.


As they pull apart

a leaf spins down towards the

puddle at their feet.


And then it happens.

Phaedra turns to stone right where

she’s standing; eyes wide,


fingers to lips, mouth

open in surprise. She won’t

dance and sing again


until Summer sneaks

back into the woods and the

roses bloom once more.


(C) Helen Lewis 2011

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