You think you’ll one day write a haiku so sharp it’ll cut jugulars, so golden it’ll blind people. In fact, you’ll write many, many haiku, lay them out in a mess, try to arrange them, make ladders out of them. Mostly they’ll be scraps, warm in your hand like bread dough, limp and prone to holiness when you roll them out.

You need to twist them in your hands. Make snakes. Ropes. Climb the ropes. Tie knots in them first. Not loops. Don’t get caught. Every so often you’ll stumble on a good one, and stumble is almost always how you’ll find them. Nevertheless, you have to do the other stuff first, the careful laying and meticulous brushstrokes. It isn’t the way it will happen but you have to pretend.

No. Not pretend. You have to believe it, make yourself believe the impossible. Then the other thing will happen and you’ll be proven wrong and stupid and ugly and bad and falling over so, so happy.

Moreover – watch the others. Imitate them, then realise that mostly people say the opposite of what they mean. Watch the gaps in their words. Learn to accept what they say, take it on face value, even as you know they are talking in riddles.

We are all on a treasure hunt, the prize of which is a necklace made of diamonds so big and pure they scream like individual suns on a chain. Count them like a rosary, in your mind’s eye. Whisper as you touch each one. We all know it isn’t real, not even a convincing imitation, but even so, we must share the adventure – take a bead, test it between your teeth, give it back, nod your head, and look them straight in the eye.

Wait long enough that your heartbeats fill the space between you. Let them shake the air, even if it hurts. That moment, just before you say or feel anything – that lack of a taste in your mouth – that’s where to look for your haiku.

 

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